Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: rituals

Post-Travel Grounding

Back home.

Here is how I get grounded after returning from a (work) trip:

I do not schedule anything for my first full day back. Traveling is fun and exhausting. I usually need quiet, slowing down time to feel back at home. Like jumping off a merry-go-round – you hit the ground running before you can slow to a stop.

I unpack – putting things away, sorting dirty clothes and storing the suitcase (so it doesn’t live in front of my dresser, blocking drawers) really helps the travel feel done.

I return to my normal morning activities (aka rituals) – the dog and I go out for a walk or bike ride, I write morning pages, I make the bed and eat my favorite foods (H was wonderful to pick up eggs and milk so I’d have groceries to make my own breakfast my first day back at home #itsthelittlethings).

I take it slow – I don’t expect too much of myself, I don’t pressure myself to get “to dos” done, I listen to podcasts, straighten up around the apartment, and nap. Napping is important, especially if I’ve overloaded myself with information and conversations, like the return from a work trip.

I find quality time with my husband – so much of feeling untethered in our relationship for me comes from a lack of quality time. He picked me up from the airport, we slept in on Saturday, we went out to dinner Friday night. We spent time together and that makes me feel even more comforted and grounded.

I indulge – this time, I’m being even more self-indulgent and taking a 4 day weekend after traveling for work 4 days. But I’m learning more and more that my all-or-nothing personality functions well when I’ve rested enough. If I take an entire day to do what I want to do, or even more so, to do nothing productive at all, then I bounce back with tons of energy the next day. It’s a rubber-band sling-shot type of balance that seems to suit me.

How do you ground yourself after travel?

What A Difference A Day Makes

 

I took this photo yesterday while walking the dog and talking to a friend. Yesterday was a struggle, but all I could ask of myself was to get through it without hurting myself.

When I say that, I don’t mean the obvious self-abusive choices of drinking, picking arguments or blowing off work. I mean the more subtle things like zoning out in front of the TV, drinking too much caffeine, eating too much sugar.

Y’know – numbing out.

I was on the brink of a shame storm so I pulled out the big guns.

  1. I called a friend. Luckily this was the right friend to hear my story and talk me through it. She was supportive, non-judgemental and everything she said helped me take the self-compassion route, not the self-hatred route. During the day I ended up talking to two more friends, all of which helped in their own way.
  2. I saw my therapist. A weekly appointment with perfect timing. Having a completely objective place to tell the story again helped me get it off my chest.
  3. I drank lots of water and ate healthy food.
  4. I didn’t drink alcohol or go get some crazy caffeinated drink to power through the day (and my mood).
  5. I cried. This allowed me to get some of the emotional energy out of my body. Sometimes words aren’t enough.
  6. I kept to my grounding rituals. I wrote morning pages, walked the dog, showered and ate breakfast.
  7. When it was too much, I got into bed and wallowed. I knew if I could take the space, I would feel better soon. And I went to bed early.
  8. I spent time with my husband, who is my most supportive self-care advocate.
  9. I stayed off the Internet. Too much information is abusive and my brain needed a rest.
  10. I trusted that if I could wait this out a few days, things would wear off, and feel less raw. I trusted that my emotional reaction was partially related to my hormones, and that “this too shall pass”. I trusted that things would work themselves out whether I knew how I felt or not. And I trusted that things are fluid and I didn’t need to figure out anything immediately.

Today was much better. I had energy, blasted through work and still feel really good this evening. My ability to get through all of that is a testament to all the work I’ve done the past 3+ years, not some crazy plan I threw together last minute. I’m learning what works for me and what doesn’t.

And I am really proud of myself.

What self-care rituals do you have in place for when things get tough? How do you deal with events that send you off course for a day or two? xo

Heartaches for the Impermanence

I’ve been thinking about ease, about changing my one little word (which I have yet to write about here), about cold and seasons and God and creativity.

But mostly I’ve been focused on getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, running my miles and staying leveled… not doing anything to tip the scales, to allow the demands of work to take me away from myself.

Wasn’t sure what to write about tonight and then remembered I’d marked this passage in the book I’m reading – Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott – where she recaps advice a priest gave her when she was considering an abortion:

“Get quiet for a moment, and then think about having the abortion: if you feel a deep secret sense of relief, pay attention to that. But if you feel deeply grieved at the thought of it, listen to that”

What a perfect way to describe our own ability to choose, to listen, to trust the inner guide.

And then this yesterday in The Right To Write by Julia Cameron:

Practice means what it says: writing is something to be done over and over, something that improves through the repetitive doing but that needs not be done perfectly… Consistency is the key to mastering the instrument that is you.

You, the writer, are a spiritual instrument. If you allow yourself to write consistently, you will become more and more finely tuned. You will become more and more fluid and expressive. As you become more fluid and expressive, you will become more vibrant, more vital, more alive.

I’ve been thinking about repetitive actions, the daily happenings, the differences within the sameness. Rituals. The idea that we’re all stalking our lives like animals, thinking it’s something to take down, eat alive, thrash about. Or we’re so dejected, we don’t even bother engaging. So disappointed that adulthood is just more laundry, more email, more snow.

But I’m learning to see the immense magic in all of this – how I want to take a photo of every freaking palm tree against a blue sky every.single.morning. How I want to show you my boots next to a patch of ice or aligned with a parking spot marked with my favorite number. How I spend every morning the same way – wake up, write, feed the dog, run, shower, eat… and I have yet to tire of this.

Instead it’s these rituals that keep me going when the pressure of work is on, or when the push and pull of days ruffle my feathers.

Tonight I called a good friend. She was in tears, dealing with the grief of losing a mentor, and talking about how it just makes everything so much more real. That we’re only here for such a short time. That the socks on the floor, or the dirty dishes aren’t really that big a deal.

That the ice I stood next to yesterday may be the only ice this year.

And I am so grateful to be in a head-space where I can fully appreciate these moments. That I could show up to support one friend last night and another today. That I can kiss my husband. That I can have my sister snuggled on the couch with my dog.

And yet my heart aches for the impermanence of it all. For the season changes, for the growing older, for the books read and unread.

There isn’t enough time, I keep thinking, over and over again.

I need you so much closer – Death Cab for Cutie

Busy Travel Year

2012 was a busy travel year.

Boston. Long Island. Nashville. Maui & Kauai for our honeymoon. Sequoia. San Diego. Las Vegas. San Fran. Newport Beach.

And I returned home again and again and again.

I can see the ebb and flow of the year, my energy and moods. For 2013 I hope to find a rhythm and lean on my own rituals and routine.

Where did you venture into the world this year? xo

Sundays Are For (Week 7)

 

 

I woke up a bit cranky. The heat didn’t help. H suggested I bike Carter to the grocery store while he cleaned the downstairs. Not going to argue with that.

So Carter and I trotted over in the heat, lugging $60 worth of food back to the house, to be greeted by cold, clean-smelling air.

H starts grad school tomorrow and we’re finally back in the full swing of his teaching job. Life is calm for me but lots of traveling coming up. I’m trying my best to tick things off the list while I’m home.

Opened up Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts and processed 200+ emails per my digital detox plan. It didn’t feel as productive as I hoped, but the overwhelm of opening my email is less. Vacuumed the dog’s crate – he’s suffering from fleas. Started a new book (The Night Circus). Flipped through our wedding photos again. Watched two football games for teams I don’t care for. Tied up a few hanging threads as well. Actually, I’m not really sure where the day went…

September used to be a month of new beginnings – that’s what life on a school schedule will do to you. I guess it’s still like that for us now as working adults, but it feel more like a transition than a fresh start.

Hoping I can stay grounded as the next 8 weeks fly by. Happy to report trusting my gut is still working.

Experiencing It

Today, after writing my trusty morning pages, I rolled out my mat and did this week’s free class at YogaToday. This is not typical. My relationship with yoga is one of mostly avoidance on my part. I mean, why would I make time for something that makes me happy?

Last week, a thought hit me – how much my days are truly full of normal yet “perfect day” activities – writing, conversations, exercise, walks with the dog, podcasts, husband, cooking, photo snapping and reading. I don’t force myself to read, I just pick up a book and spend some time. Whenever I remember to snap a few photos, I feel lighter. Once I get going, exercise and cooking are both awesome, relaxing pursuits. And every morning I write 3-pages of long hand no matter what my mood, my sleep cycle, the weather or my issues. No questions.

So today while I’m smack in the middle of this yoga class, sweat beading on my forehead, my legs and arms stretched in side-angle pose, I feel this tense thought, “When is this class going to start?”

What?” another part of my mind demanded. “START?!” As if the sweat and shaky muscles weren’t enough of an indication, the sun had moved up past the window and time had obviously lapsed.

But what did this mean? How could I be half-way through a yoga class, connecting to my breathe and moving my body, and be that disconnected? Or more so, that outside of this string of present moments that my brain wasn’t on-board with the experience my body was having.

It was so odd. It was like I was expecting something, a more utopian version of what “doing yoga” should be / feel like. And it brought me back to last week’s thought about my beautifully full days and how all of these things are practices that I’ve slowly incorporated into my life. I didn’t used to write, take photos, blog, walk the dog, read and cook every day (sometimes I still don’t, but I make sure to get a few in before work). And that yoga was another practice I could add in, something I do no matter my mood, because it’s good for me and I’m always better for it after it’s done.

And how, by building in these practices of showing up, these daily rituals, I’m less inclined to be swayed by Resistance to avoid these good-for-my-soul actions. That’s where I think my thought came from today during yoga – my brain (ego) was still trying to talk me out of doing yoga by complaining that the class was so boring or low-level that it felt like it hadn’t even started yet. How silly. It comes up when I think about writing instead of moving my hand across the page or when I fantasize about baking instead of pulling the bags of flour and sugar out of the cabinet.

It’s really a matter of doing, of acknowledging the thoughts that try to deter us, thanking them for their care, and then continuing on with our practices anyways. Because the love I have for my life is not made up of the thoughts I had about doing or not doing something, but about the memories I have of actually experiencing it.