Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: pressure

Us in San Diego








A few weeks ago, I asked H if we could go to San Diego for a one-night trip. He obliged, and with a credit, he bought us a night at the Andaz Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter.

We left Saturday morning, and with a stop at Starbucks, we were on the road by 10am. The drive was easy as we listened to comedians on Pandora stations and OK Go’s Oh No.

We parked at the hotel, checked into our room and headed back out to tour the USS Midway. I’ve never been on a navel ship, but H’s dad was in the navy, and took him on a ship when he was little. He was as excited as a nine year old with each turn saying “Oh, I remember this!” multiple times. He even said it smelled the same, which his dad later explained was the paint they use that can withstand the salty sea air.

Of course, I was geeking out at how similar many of the areas of the ship were to Battlestar Galactica (which we binged-watched this summer) I even snapped a picture of the XO’s chair in the Ready Room. It was awesome! I’m pretty sure I also embarrassed H a bit.

The ship is 900 feet long, so it took us a few hours to make our way around and see it all. Once back on land our feet were sore enough to hop on a pedi-cab to take us back. Our driver (biker?) played 70s r&b tunes and talked to us about how he recently moved to San Diego from Wisconsin. We surprised him with a huge tip. Felt good to think we made his day.

Lunch was apps and beers, sipped on the patio as H scanned his Zillow app to see if we could afford anything in the area (short answer: No).

Slightly buzzed, we walked to a few stores. I tried on a bathing suit in Roxy, which H assured me looked hot and in which I felt gross (haha) and then he almost lost his wallet there when it slipped out of his pocket. Up the street, we found ourselves at The Tipsy Crow, a place my sister recommended for happy hour, and landed us a seat right at the bar.

Their happy hour consists of a “drink exchange” in which the prices of certain drinks go up & down based on their popularity – like a stock market for bar flies. This totally promotes mixing, so with the acoustic band playing songs by Of Monsters and Men and taking shots themselves, we drank on for a long while. This was my favorite part of the whole day ❤

We somehow decamped to our hotel room just in time for me to take a nice nap, shower and get ready to head back out for dinner. H picked La Puerta, which turned out to have a 90 min wait for a table. Because he is a genius, he asked the bouncer if we could order food at the bar, and just as we walked the perimeter, two seats opened up. It was perfect. The food was delicious, our bar tender was spot-on and we didn’t have to wait at all.

From there we went back to The Tipsy Crow for dancing (which didn’t work out), a bar with a zoned-out 80s cover band and weird crowd, and then to Double Deuce, which had country music and no one upstairs. Sold. We had a few more drinks, watched the bartenders dance and pour shots into the crowd below and took advantage of the photo booth.

The next day we slept in, watched some football, showered and packed up. We had breakfast comped at the rooftop restaurant, where we ordered eggs and coffee and baked in the sun. The service was slow, but the view was worth it.

Unfortunately, there was no time to lounge, as we wanted to rent bikes and head back up to LA.

Biking from the Gaslamp to Balboa Park was harder than I planned (all uphill) but there is seriously nothing like touring a city by bike (like that time I went to San Francisco by myself). I love it.

At the park we saw the outdoor pipe organ, artist paintings, and gardens. We ate pretzals and people watched. And then we biked back down to the hotel to leave. Right before we got back to the hotel, we stopped in an Urban Outfitters, where I serendipitously found the tarot cards I’d been coveting since October. And H bought a rad backpack that looks like a boarding school bag.

Our ride home was quiet, with a pink and purple sunset over the ocean.

It was the perfect overnight trip for us to have fun together and not worry one bit about all of the work pressures piling up the next few weeks. I’m so glad we made the time and I really want to make trips like this a priority. We’re lucky to have the time and each other.

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.



As Fully Myself As Possible

Today was difficult.

Not because anything was wrong. There wasn’t a ton of work to do and my schedule was open. Maybe it was all the running around this weekend (or for that matter, the alcohol). Maybe it’s my lack of working out or the Moon in Capricorn or it being Monday.

No matter. Today was annoying from the start. And I went with it.

I’ve learned that there’s no point in fighting any of it. I get up, get dressed and try to accomplish a small task or two for the day. Or maybe one large item I can knock off.

I don’t force myself. Berating thoughts are not allowed in my head. There are no “have tos” or “shoulds”, just a simple question, “What next?” I realized that frustrating days are out of my control. They exist for a reason I can not see at the time, maybe only to counter-balance the insanely productive days.

On these perplexing days it’s extra important to go through my daily routine, leaning on it for place markers, a sense of a through-line. I write morning pages, walk the dog outside, set up my computer and respond to emails. I choose one thing I can get done with the energy I have. Today I accomplished a few things, but in other terms, failed at completing, or even starting, anything I “had to” do.

I showed up for life and that’s a heck of a lot more than I used to be able to do, even back when I was oh-so-productive. Yes, I crossed items off my To Do list then, but I wasn’t living. I was some task-doing-robot version of me.

Today I chatted with my mom – I think she had some things she needed to work out. I texted with my sister about her visit. I cooked a full dinner. I walked the dog at the ocean and then again after work. I did an hour of yoga. And here I am writing to you.

We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are ~Anain Nin

That quote, from one of my favorite authors and birthday sister, is truer now than I’ve ever known it to be. A year or two ago, I would’ve suffered through a day like today, beating myself up for not being productive enough or chipper enough or forcing myself to do things I didn’t have the energy for, and then felt guilty for how, in all of my toughness, I couldn’t “handle” the day in which life seemed perfect yet I was miserable.

Instead I gave in to this flow of life – I trusted and stayed present and went with each moment. And I’m only able to do that now because I see myself as part of this flow, as trust and presence and love. During my yoga practice, I chose the small prayer “It’s all enough“… because it is. Each day, every time.

Emails, to dos, projects, other people’s approval – they matter, but not in the way I used to believe. What matters now is that I treat myself like a precious object, and show up in the world as fully myself as possible on any given day.

And that’s all the business I really have to worry about.

Current Challenge – Day 4 – #Trust30

While I’m doing well overall, there is a lot of chaos going on in the form of a few people dear to me being in the hospital. This is the time that I hate being 3000 miles away from home. And this is when I feel especially guilty about what I consider my own “challenges”.

For today’s #trust30 prompt, I’m to name a difficulty and rephrase in the form of a question. Then post that question where I’ll see it the next 2 days and journal a response. Seems reasonable, but my “challenge” feels entirely too silly in the face of all I know my family and friends are going through.

So, I recognize that this seems like a shallow difficulty, but I’d like to clarify that I don’t really mean that I’m not excited for my wedding. In theory, I’m so excited I’ll burst. The issue is not with “How to plan a party for 100 people?” and it’s not with cold-feet about the actual commitment of marriage (not yet, at least). The issue lies deeper, in some core place in my self where I am unable to picture what it is I really want separate from what everyone else is telling me I’m supposed to want. That pressure completely deflates any excitement that wells up. I’m left with the feeling of “What is wrong with me?” and that’s just no fun at all.


That I would be good…

Life steam-rolled me, emotionally, the past few weeks even though nothing life-altering occurred. In fact, my days were pretty void of events. Isn’t that the way, though? When things are not wrapped up perfectly, with their label clearly screaming “Emergency”, you just have no idea. Can’t see the damn trees from the forest.

In the midst of it, I knew, in my core, that this is how I “used to” feel and didn’t I work oh-so-freakin’ hard the past year to get rid of this stupid, panic-stricken hateful me? Didn’t I start this blog, get a therapist and start leaving dishes in the sink in favor of a good book all because of this.exact.crap?

I made it through, obviously, we all do, but each time I scour the experience for signs of how & why it started or what I could’ve done better during it to really take care of myself. Which is maybe why it happened in the first place – I wasn’t taking care of myself.

Here’s what helped:

  • Hugs
  • Calls with friends who listen, care and think I’m freakin’ awesome
  • Walking – the neighborhood with the dog, the beach, or around a store. Being out and moving
  • Books – library borrowing, bookstore buying and reading lots
  • Playing roller-hockey
  • Artist Dates (craft store, coffee + writing, taking pictures)
  • Fresh strawberries by the pound
  • Seeing, hearing, smelling the ocean

Here’s what didn’t:

  • Twitter, Facebook and email
  • Drinking alcohol, even if it was a glass of wine with dinner
  • Thinking about or researching wedding plans
  • Beating myself up about feeling crappy

That I would be loved, even when I am not myself
That I would be good, even when I am overwhelmed
~ Alanis Morissette

These dips and curls are what makes a life. Still, I want to dig deep during these times and then coast lighter when they let me go. Or I let them go…Because once I started putting myself back at center-stage, the panic and hurt dissolved.

Things are still as unsettled as they were last week, but today I feel good. Yesterday, I felt good. My hope is to feel good tomorrow as well. It’s perspective and it’s self-love. Pressure & permission. Doing what helps and deleting what doesn’t.

“Treating myself as a precious object will make me stronger” ~Artist’s Way

Assignment: Medium-Size “Love To” List

For a super planner like me, addicted to busy-busy-busy, planning a day of absolutely nothing seems like the perfect antidote, luxurious even. If Monday is jam-packed then Tuesday is rest, creating a balance logical to most people.

Turns out, when it comes to free time, I am not most people. This approach is too overwhelming for me (hence yesterday’s mood). And yes, I see the irony is being overwhelmed by too much free time. Apsht.

A few weeks ago, I started making little lists. When the empty space of the day would start to crush my work-a-holic soul, I would jot down simple things that I enjoy and could do with my free time. They became Love To lists (I just made that up. I may change it). This was working, but again, yesterday’s mood was not overthrown. In fact, all day my mind was blank, like I was in a fight or flight panic over WHAT TO DO with my time and I couldn’t think straight enough to even name “Take a bath” or “Read a book”.

Pathetic, I know.

Of course I bring all of this to therapy. And here is where we both decide that if I’m going to to go all CT on this problem’s ass, then “doing nothing” isn’t going to work. I need some type of structure.

My little assignment, which I don’t usually receive b/c that would just feed into my issues, is to list things I enjoy doing to replace the sessions I’ll be missing as my therapist heads for maternity leave. Then, I’ll use some of the $ I’m not spending on sessions to essentially treat myself.

Aka: Me Time. And doesn’t that make the shame gremlins swirl?

It’s like a bigger version of the Love To list I mentioned above and a smaller version of a Life List (too daunting right now). Oh and you know so much crap is coming up around thinking I don’t deserve that time or that I don’t work hard enough to earn that time or that, ahem, I don’t give myself enough credit. All topics I’m sure we’ll be visiting in the near future.

I’m also seeing a connection between this medium-sized task, the pull to draw inward during this Pisces vibe and the possibility of doing the Artist’s Way during that chunk of time I’m off of therapy. All the ideas point to “Take care of yourself” and “Create“.

I’m trying – I’m blogging more, trying to listen to my body, and now I’m drawing (some of my doodles are in this post). It feels right to grow in this direction. Even my horoscope says:

Artistic activities or those involving healing are enhanced today, Pisces. Whatever you try is going to be more a part of your very being than it would be at other times. Love, art, psychic or spiritual activities – all should take on a new meaning for you at this time. This condition should last for a long time. Make the most of this energy now and your skills should continue to grow.

And my new mantra, also courtesy of my horoscope:

Change does not have to be intense and traumatic –

but it does take work.

Chicken Scratch

I don’t know if I’m following my intention or escaping but I did a bunch of doodling today. It really does help me relax – I hit flow and lose track of time… and the dog… and dinner. Oops.

My day wasn’t fantastic. I don’t know how to write about it without beating myself up for beating myself up. I recognize the feeling now. I’m subconsciously picking on myself somehow, like a bully who constantly flicks balls of paper at your head but never gets caught.

My day wasn’t fantastic b/c I wasn’t fantastic. I could blame it on a lack of sleep, soda with dinner, hormones, lack of exercise, guilt, boredom or anything else. Who the f-knows? I’ve always focused on the cause, some semblance of control… I’m sure the cause matters, but I want to take a different approach. Now that I can name this feeling, what can I do to ride it out or change it?

The worst part of this is that my mind goes blank on options. I forget what makes me happy, my lack of oomph keeps me from experimenting, and I basically sit and stare at nothing while my inner self stands before a firing squad. All day. I force myself to stay away from wallowing completely (read: go back to bed) but I seem to expect Super Productive Self to swoop in and save the day.

She doesn’t.

I think, “Yesterday was so so good. I had energy, I got a ton done and I felt happy.” And then I start whining, “Why can’t I feel like that everyday!?!?” AKA “What is wrong with me?”.

I’m beginning to realize that this is ME. Just in the way the world isn’t black and white, I can not expect to have every day be negative free. I can’t expect my emotions to be smooth and easy. It’s silly to place that expectation on it. Very hard for a perfectionist to accept. I am trying so hard to do everything perfectly to avoid the very emotional state I end up in.

It’s exhausting. But, as always, awareness is the first step. Now it’s on to changing behavior and thought patterns, to find better ways to love myself in these instances. Today I made butternut squash soup, called someone who cares, doodled and journaled, but it’s all too shallow. There’s more down below…

Well I looked at the granite markers / Those tribute to finality – eternity / And then I looked at myself here / Chicken scratching for my immortality. ~Joni Mitchell

One Blog Post Away

I started posting hours ago and then my draft disappeared. Gone. (Stupid Mercury retrograde) It had something to do with the mental struggles of my day – how on paper my job looks like a precious gift that I keep trying to return. How I have co-dependent tendencies. How today I tried to disconnect from the pressure I put on myself to do something when there is nothing to be done. And I feel a whole lot better.

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