Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: one little word

Check List for Worthwhileness

We had Monday off from work – and there is nothing I love more than a Monday holiday. A perfect day for some climbing outside (it’s been months) at Stoney Point.

Making a 1/2 day trek to LA’s urban outdoor rock gym is right in line with my adventuring for 2015.

It requires some planning, getting up early on a day off, packing a bit, and the whole hustle it takes to actually get going. Then, once you’re there, you scout around for the routes, re-route your plan if other people are already there, discuss anchor points, look at maps, stand in the hot sun and set anchors (this part mostly done by H), and then finally – almost 2 hrs after you left the house – you’re ready to climb.

And climbing is a metaphor for life itself, but we don’t need to go into it right now. Instead, what I want to point out is, all of the above is hurdle enough to keep people (and by “people”, I mean me) from doing anything interesting with their time.

So a day like this is really just a check-list for embarking on anything worthwhile:
Plan a bit
Pack a bit
Invite someone cool to travel with
Stare at maps some
Scout a bit
Route + re-route as needed
Tie in / buckle up / walk off the cliff (whatever, you get it)
… and enjoy it

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2015 One Little Word: Adventure

2015 was off to a slow start on the personal end coupled with a roaring schedule for work. This required turning in, focusing my energy where it was needed – on myself and my job.

Now that the knot of work loosened, I am excited to shift focus to my own projects. What better way to get clear on my intentions than by sharing my One Little Word for 2015?

Adventure. Yes.

While most of the past 10 weeks are a blur of holidays, work and not-so-great events, my OLW came to me before that. In the midst of traveling to Denver, Joshua Tree and Boston – on flights, during road trips, while climbing rock faces – I started to feel an inkling of something new. A whisper of forward movement. A feeling of needing to shake things up.

I could already feel the Saturn shift happening, and the planet of hard work was moving right into adventure-loving Sagittarius.

Perfect timing.

 

Flow: Month Six

Ah, June.

I have to say, this entire year has felt like a whirlwind – at times I feel like I’m cruising along, other times I feel like I’m drowning. Up & down. It’s only in the past few days I’m surfacing again.

June saw me travel for work (again), family visiting (again), work drama (again), and not feeling so hot (again). But there was good too – I hired a life coach, climbed outdoors in gorgeous New Hampshire, renewed my Year of Ocean commitment, napped in the late afternoons, killed it at my annual review, spent quality time with friends and had a week with family in Newport Beach.

So much life is coming at me head on and I don’t have a reference point to deal with it all. And even though it’s all good things, it’s a lot.

I need a break.

I’m realizing that flow, like anything else, is actually a negative thing if taken too far.

I am moving at the whim of everything and there is no time to catch my breath. It’s like I’m a boat taking on water, and what I really need to be asking myself is “Do I have to carry this right now?” Because I take on a lot. Probably too much.

This, of course, is the on-going struggle I have. To prioritize my own life over that of everyone else in it. To say “No”.

While I have the perspective to know that everything is not a crisis, I still feel responsible for it all.

What I’m thinking is that I could use some structure for my flow. Some perspective. Some scheduling and processes. Nothing crazy, since I already know that creating structure and abiding by it are two different skill sets, but I’ve got to figure out something.

Life is steam-rolling me and going with the flow is gonna get me sucked out to sea.

It occurred to me this morning that there is a level of fear and hard work that I’m not willing to face. That doing everyone else’s bidding is exhausting, but I receive immediate positive feedback from it, so it feels like a win. Doing my own thing could result in too many variables: things not working, getting in trouble by someone else, having to say no / disappoint people, not reaching the goal.

But I’m seeing that to live a deeply nourishing existence, I need to not just carve out my own time, but to structure my time around me. There is a difference.

I feel like I’m sinking, when I want to be swimming. Diving deep. That requires energy and focus. And so that is where my heart is after 6 months of flow. Here’s to another 6 more.

You can see all of my OLW ~flow~ posts here.

 

Flow: Month Five

 

Like I wrote here about my jury duty experience, May was a befitting challenge to my OWL ~flow~ because I spent two weeks in a situation I did not want to be in.

It was all about giving in to reality, like how H told me to float on my back that time we were caught in a rip current, but I didn’t know it, and the waves kept crashing over my head, and my body went into full panic.

Give in to the fact that the house feels like a disaster between moving everything around for the new floors, not being home and not cleaning. It will all eventually get done.

Give in to the fact that some nights it felt too hot to sleep, that the heat wave made us all cranky, that even after jury duty, I had stressful dreams for a while. Turn on the a/c even if it makes us feel like bad people, and get some rest.

Give in to the fact that I couldn’t go see my therapist. Up the self-care & be my own supportive voice.

Give in to the fact that I couldn’t get work done, or didn’t have the energy, or things were taking forever. If it absolutely needs to get done, it’ll get done. If it doesn’t, it won’t.

Give in to the fact that I had to tell people “no” and deal with their reactions. Can’t please them all.

Give in to the fact that I had a ton of energy and wasn’t sure where to put it. Go out for more runs.

And while it seemed the month went by in a blink, I did get two long posts out – one, a blog hop Jill invited me to, and another about climbing outdoors (for the first time). I ran more miles in May than any other month so far this year (and for the past 12 months, only rivaling November 2013. Both months ran for a total of over 40miles). I printed pictures and bought an Instax camera and drank a lot of coffee (which made me happy).

We are deep into binge-watching Game of Thrones (which started me on a Kit Harington/Jon Snow bender) and finally visited with some friends who had a baby. We celebrated H’s 30th birthday. We went to an observatory and I looked into the night sky through a big-deal telescope, and then looked for the light. And I finally got to Joshua Tree, to the desert.

Even when life is stressful, we find our days resemble some sense of vacation because we have the luxury of living in SoCal. Just the other day, as I biked home from a coffee date with a friend, I felt pretty lucky to be where I’m at, jury duty, work, messy house and all. To remind myself, I checked in and refocused.

All of that pent up frustration of having to sit still in a spot I didn’t want to be, seemed to create enough pressure to spring me into an idea-creating frenzy. I am excited to follow that thread. It’s scary how fast May flew by, but lately June is my favorite, so I’m pretty happy to be right here again. Flowing through 2014.

How’s your one little word for the year going?

You can see all of my OLW ~flow~ posts here.

p.s. Mercury, the messenger of the Gods, goes retrograde tomorrow. If there was ever a good time to back-up your files, double-check your work, go with the flow and enjoy the journey, now until July 1st would be a good time.

Flow: Month Four

April was a lot like March, if March was on speed.

The craziness that was the second half of March took over ALL of April.

Traveled to Boston, where I spent a night with my parents, went climbing outdoors for the first time, worked three 12-hour days, had an all-night happier with friends, took the 7am EST flight back (at this point, I was on no time zone what-so-ever), returned to LA to find the entire downstairs of the apartment in upheaval, as H decided he was going to finally change out the floors, with his entire family landing at LAX the next afternoon. Then on to them visiting us for 12 days – including going to Six Flags, Universal Studios, and doing a crazy hike in hot weather – and then packing up and going to Stagecoach country music festival for 4 days.

Whew.

In each circumstance, with each day, came a new reason to go with the flow.

Traveling for work is nothing if it’s not just showing up and doing my best.

Coming home with the expectation that H and I would relax before his family arrived, only to have the apartment in upheaval for the next two weeks, gave me the opportunity to repeat “it’ll get done…and we’ll finally have new floors”.

Staring at a massive pile of stuff in our office while said floors were replaced let me cut myself a break and know that, when I had the energy, I would put it all back together again.

Being whipped around time zones, with no routine, lots of restaurant food and family in town made me listen to my body more. Was I thirsty? Grab a glass of water. Was I tired? Let’s take a nap. Did I need to burn off some energy? How about a run.

Attending a music festival with 60k people and camping off-site meant the control-freak in me could only do so much. I really just had to see what came up next and go with it. With sixty-thousand other people. Haha.

Getting not one, but TWO, flat tires on the drive to the festival gave me the chance to ask for help, hang with my sister (where she took the awesome picture  of me above) and really trust that things would work out.

And y’know what? They did. They do. Over and over again. Things work out, timing makes sense, people stop by, strangers speak up and things I thought were imperative end up being kind of… whatever.

I already wrote this here, but my therapist said it best “Justine. You’re doing really well. You’re just rolling with the punches”.

Crazy thing is, I don’t feel like I’m rolling with the punches – I hardly feel like I’m being punched anymore. Nothing seems that dire right now (and of course, I’m lucky/grateful that’s the case). But it used to be that my car stereo not working could send me into a tailspin, and somehow having two flat tires was, like, nothing. We were safe, we had food and water, we called for help and we figured it out. A total pain, but relatively easy in the grand scheme of my life.

So despite how chaotic my schedule is lately, I am feeling pretty awesome. I know it won’t always be like this, and I def have days where I cry or just want to watch TV and zone out, but I am proud of myself, again, for cultivating a sense of well-being, of confidence that I can figure it out, of trust that things will work out…

For trusting and honoring flow.


Read about how my OLW ~flow~ worked for me in January, February and March. xo

Flow: Month Three

We can sum up March as I’ve finally gotten my energy back and it’s a good thing because I am committed to a shit-ton of stuff.

I know I hardly blogged in March, but that’s OK because 3 months into 2014 and I’ve:

  • Cut back on my drinking
  • Grabbed coffee with a woman I met at the retreat 6 months ago
  • Continued running 2-5x per week, usually 2m at a time with the dog (slooooooow)
  • Started (and become obsessed) with rock climbing at an indoor gym
  • Spoke an an important meeting
  • Traveled to San Diego and Big Bear
  • Hosted 10 events for work, one of which was the most well-attended event for our office ever
  • Attended a conference and a training
  • Took care of our homelife while H took his Comps test and ran the talent show
  • Biked 10m on a hot day to see a best friend as she ran the LA marathon (go Steph!)
  • Wished my mom a happy birthday (with my siblings and the gift of an expensive purse hah)
  • Hung out with another best friend while she visited LA (hi Liz!)
  • Read two magnificent books
  • Had Conan O’Brien talk to me (thanks to a friend I made at the conference, who needed a tour around Abbott Kinney and conveniently wanted to order a hot chocolate from the Toms Shoe store right as Conan also  came in to order a coffee)

So, I’m still going with the flow. Even when I forget that flow is my word for the year – I’m working on a new level of acceptance: This is how things are – an acknowledgement of how something really is and not the half-imagined version my brain would like it to be.

Interestingly, I have no real routine – every week is different – and this will continue for April as I travel and we have family visit. Yet, I’m still functioning fine. Things are getting done, cycles are aligning with the moon, emails get answered…eventually.

I have noticed a bit of multi-tasking manic-ness creeping in. When I read Sas Petherick’s “Calling Bullshit On Multitasking” I laughed out loud. She writes: “When I feel organised, I feel more confident, more in control.”

I get that, and I agree, but I’m also aware this week how much this seems to be my season of high energy, pulling a lot of information in and (possibly soon) creating a lot of product to ship out. My energy is great, my brain feels clearer and my confidence is up. If I was swimming through rapids in January and February, March felt like I finally caught a wave.

Looking forward to riding it for the rest of April.

Flow: Month Two

I think the most important thing about February was that I gave in and, schedule-wise, went with the flow. There was no week that went the same way, Mercury was retrograde, I was hibernating and exhausted, the weather was hot or rainy. We were busy.

It was an odd month for sure and I’m glad it was short.

There were two highlights of the month: learning to rock climb and my 30th birthday.

Rock climbing  is now something H and I do together, at least once a week. We’re still learning, trying different indoor gyms and have yet to climb outside. I’m addicted. H even bought me a harness for my birthday!

My birthday was also wonderful. We went out of town for a ski trip and the next weekend celebrated with a dinner. It was awesome to get some much love the day of and also to feel the fog was lifted and I was back to my self, even if that self was now a year older.

I slept in some, acknowledging that the lack of sunlight in the mornings makes it harder to rise. (Just noticed how bright it was when this morning’s alarm went off – and also realizing Daylight Savings time starts this weekend so it’ll be back to dark in the morning).

We’ve been (binge) watching House of Cards, The Walking Dead and seen a few 3+ hour movies. We saw the Flyers play the Kings at Staples Center. We were both sick for over two weeks with some weird cold that wouldn’t leave. I read The Goldfinch. I cut way back on my alcohol consumption. Not sure I see a difference yet, but I certainly don’t feel worse.

I had more meetings than I possibly could’ve ever wanted, a some frustrations with work, but they all just led me back to the same idea again and again: I have to put my own creativity, my own work, first.

While I forgot about flow a bunch over the weeks, I also noticed it pop up in moments. Like in the pure thrill of a cancelled meeting or the perfect timing of thinking I’m late but it all working out. It seems that life does have an order to it, and if I’m not too busy trying to drive my own order with how things should be, then life shows up and gives me a much grander adventure.

This month was about resting, tucking in and refilling the reserves. I think I accomplished that. And in the past week I’ve found my energy coming back, my drive revving up, ideas flowing again. Ready to move and live this new (astrological) year.

Flow: Month One

Looking back over January, I have one word for myself: proud.

I’m proud that I managed my anxiety with four major events in 21 days, kept up my workload, gave myself space when I needed it and listened to my intuition.

There was the upswing of anxiety with events – planning, preparing, all hurry-up-and-wait.

There was plunging exhaustion with so much adrenaline coursing through me I only slept 8 hours in 2 days.

There was the serendipity of being asked, “What are you proud of?” the day after the last event played off.

That night, getting coconut milk ice cream with these ladies, I experienced a deja vu, only to have the store clerk say “That means you’re on the right path.”

There was Heidi’s advice via Instagram: “lots of deep breathing to help slow your body down. Generous amounts of kindness and compassion for yourself especially in recounting the event and your delivery of it. Listen to your body and do your best to give yourself permission to give it what it needs most. Hang in, Justine. You have a great sense of awareness around your HSP so I trust you will know what you need. 🙂 …the tears are a great sign that you are releasing. The more you can give into them, allow for them, and not judge them, the more peace you will find. Be gentle with your process.”

I gave into the tears, so hot and heaving one morning, I thought they wouldn’t end. And I was gentle.

I shared on Facebook:
This weekend I was the gal in the arena “who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if (s)he fails, at least fails while daring greatly”

I had almost 500 people show up to one event. We had 3 events total. I leaned heavily on my coworkers & husband. I didn’t sleep. I took good care of myself. I laughed with people and almost cried under pressure. Then actually cried in the shower. I chose green juice and then downed margaritas. I answered email from bed, walked the beach and checked Instagram too many times. I was focused, scattered, grateful, pissed and everything in between.

Risk requires vulnerability and vulnerability requires trust & love & really good people in the arena with you. The critics don’t count b/c their not even in the game. Remember that. xo

And then I posted this: Brene Brown – Listening To Shame

I drank too much (again) and took naps at 5pm in the afternoon. I did a ton of work and then soaked in a hot tub. Twice. H and I went to San Diego for a night. I hiked during the day and checked email late at night. I swam in the ocean. I went out on runs with Carter and then took over a week off from exercise because of a terrible cold. And stress.

I started pulling tarot cards – tuning into whatever magic the Universe whispers through signs. I pulled the Eight of Pentacles (focusing on the task) and The World (fulfillment of a grand project) multiple times. It’s become a morning ritual.

Somehow, it is what we’d call a “net win” – coming out at the end of January feeling confident in myself, trusting and moving along with whatever reality brought me.

It truly felt like a month of ebb and flow, week to week, day to day, even hour to hour.

And I was determined to not put my living on hold while I was awash in the anxieties of these work pressures, and I succeeded. I asked for help and received it. I was open to whatever came my way. I risked and was rewarded.

I think I grew more this past month than in other month’s combine. And I’m proud. I went with the flow. I was the girl in the arena. And I dared greatly.

An $8 juice, and being walked home

January is never fun for me. No matter if the holidays are crazy or restful, I feel launched, unprepared, back into a month where work is demanding and stressful. This year, this month, it’s 5 events in 19 days, four of which come in a row at the end of the month.

Tuesday night was the first event of the month, and technically also the easiest, but I spent the day ragged with anxiety. I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins, this cold and tight feeling in my chest, and my heart racing like it was experiencing a caffeine overload. For the life of me, I could not shake it.

I tried rationalizing: Nothing is wrong. I am fine. I am not in danger.  I tried deep breathing, closing my eyes and waiting, a 3m run with the dog, a hot shower and even a fancy, delicious and pricey juice.

Nothing worked.

And while that feeling didn’t leave my body until I slept it off… I wanted to leave a marker here for myself for three reasons:

1. I trusted that this was some combo of panic and pms, and that I could lay low, do what work needed to be done, and know that I would mostly likely feel better after a night of sleep (which I did).

2. That there was no rationalizing or doing to be done. No fixing. I just had to go through my self-care practices and wait it out.

3. That connection is what actually helped.

It’s the third point that makes this so awesome for me now, a few days later. I shared my anxiety on Facebook and a friend commented “Look at the sky and remember you’re a blonde monkey floating in space and none of this stuff actually matters. Works for me every time.” A phone call with a former colleague & current friend let me vent. She said, “You’re a rockstar. Your event will be amazing. The end.” Lindsey sent me a lovely comment about my one little word post on Twitter and Jamie said that my word (~flow~) sounded like the perfect approach to the day we were both having. A friend was photographing the event, and she is such a quiet presence, it’s nice to have her there when I’m talking my head off to 100+ people I don’t know. And lastly, the woman who managed the bar is snazzy, sends plates of food over to my check-in table, hands me giant bottles of water and says things like, “don’t worry mama, we got this”.

As the day went on, I could feel the love I was being sent, and I did my best to soak it in, and say yes to each offering… because striving the way we do sometimes, sets us up to feel intense panic about if we’re doing the right things and if we’re working hard enough.

This day reminded me that not only was I for sure going to rock my job, but that people like working with me. I am loved regardless if the event is a success or not.

And it reminded me of this quote… which I’m pretty sure is becoming a guiding principle for how I live my life: “We’re all just walking each other home.” ~Ram Dass.

On this day, I had a lot of people walking with me, and for that, I am grateful.

 

 

2014 One Little Word


Flow first came to me via the INFJ business class I’m in. Abby spoke about working with our preferences, energy, cycles, seasons – “designing for flow” she called it.

Genius.

As I thought and felt through the last weeks of 2013, I tossed around a few words: hum, resonance, depth, grow. I wanted a word that could embody growth in an upward, expansive way, but also in a deep / depth way. I wanted a word that gave me the feeling of being one with energy, with people, with my life, and supported me in the way that “trust” did in 2012. Mostly I wanted a word that would move me forward through another spiral of life, *and* would be comforting.

The more I thought about “designing for flow” the more I realized this could be my word.

Here’s what flow means to me at the start of this year:
-Go with the flow, overcoming resistance. Energize focus.

-Cycles & seasons – following the planets, the moon, my own energy / body, a time to work, a time to harvest, a time to lie fallow. Respecting these rhythms. Aligned.

-Creativity – depth, bringing things together, allowing creativity to fill in the gaps of my days.

-Finding flow – the actual state of engagement and productivity.

-Waves, oceans, currents, tides. Sacred energy. Heidi  Taylor mentioned “sacred idleness” on Twitter – that seems to resonate here. So does my Year of Ocean project.

-Movement – clear space, energized focus give and take. Set up systems & structures to flow through.

-Priming the pump, filling the well, and taking care not to overdraw my reserves.

-Power in Ease (path of least resistance) – let go or be dragged, trust.

I’ve found that my one little words ask me to look at their opposites. The opposites for flow I see now: resistance, stuck, scarcity, lack. When I’m experiencing these feelings through the year, I want to remember to come back to flow.

Aligned + moving. Riding the waves. Living by the moon. xo

Interested in choosing your own word to guide you this year? I suggest two resources: Ali Edwards One Little Word series, as she’s the creator of this online project and Susannah Conway’s Unravelling booklet. Missed this in January? Don’t let whatever month it is keep you from choosing a word to carry with you the rest of the year.