Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: self-care

500th Time of Allowing Myself

Carter and I this morning during our bike ride.

What I want to tell you is this is my 500th post, and at such a milestone, I wanted to celebrate the way that bloggers do…

But I’m realizing more and more how much hustling goes on online, with word-count limits, bullet lists and productivity tricks. I mean, I knew I was avoiding that type of space, but it’s only in the past few months I’m thinking about actually creating this space, fleshing it out with my own experience and inviting you to share yours.

So instead of a give-away, top 10 list or guest posting all over the interwebs, I am here, doing my usual thing. Sharing stuff about life.

I hosted a work event last night – it went as perfectly as an annual event can, with the help of lovely volunteers and the weather knocking down the RSVP list (this is a good thing). And even though I rested beforehand and didn’t have much on my plate today, even though I had volunteers and nothing crazy happened, even though I was home and in bed before midnight and didn’t drink a single sip of alcohol – I woke up today feeling totally wiped out.

This almost always happens. The effort of planning, executing and keeping myself calm for the weeks prior and during the hours of an event, lead to some crazy post-event hangover.

I think it’s a pressure thing. I’m learning in my INFJ business class how my type is prone to over-achieving and over-extending… not to mention perfectionism.

And in honor of my INFJ-ness, I went for self-care today, but it seemed I felt worse as I tried a myriad of things: working, running errands, reading, and finally napping. Somehow even napping made me feel worse. I mean, come on.

It’s only hours later, after a walk outside in the chilly air, two Advil, a mug of hot tea, and a heat pack on my neck that I’m feeling able to do anything. Sitting here & writing is a major step up from the tears that leaked out while I changed the bed sheets.

It’s posts like Dream Time by Elizabeth that remind me it’s OK to have days like this (serendipity has her using Van Morrison too hah). It’s listening to this podcast again, Jen Lee speaking with Michael Nobbs, that remind me it’s OK to not be able to get too much done. It’s this episode of Creative Living with Jamie where they speak about honoring seasons and experiencing winter… and it’s me trying to remember where I am in the moon cycle, as maybe that’s what’s to blame for all of this.

I know a good night’s sleep will help. I know this is only temporary. And I know my body & emotions process things in ways my mind doesn’t understand… so it’s only fitting that my 500th blog post is really just me circling all of these resources and lessons again – and allowing myself to be.

xo

Keep Your Shit Together

So, how does one act like they have their shit together, when they don’t?

Is there something in the way they carry themselves, the words they use, the fingerprints they leave (or don’t) on glasses they sip from (or don’t) on tables they wipe clean (or don’t)?

You may think I have my shit together because I value self-care. Because I went for a run this morning, after I wrote in my journal, before I showed up for 3 meetings and called a few caterers for an event. The event that, every year, makes me feel like I don’t have my shit together. (Here is 2013‘s and here is 2012‘s)

And each year, I think, I’ll do better this time – and I rally the troops (it’s just me) and make lists, send emails, gathering my courage… and still, something goes wrong. Someone nit-picks and no matter how many people are in the room, how much applause there is, the response is – we can do better next time. But all I hear is, you will do better next time which really means you didn’t do good enough this time.

I’ve done enough work over the past 4 years to know that my work is not my worth. That even if this event crashes and burns, even if it is cancelled for reasons of horrible planning or no one RSVP’d, I am still worthy of love and connection. I am still worthy of being here.

But it still gets to me, y’know?

Do you know this feeling? Do you hike up your pants and strap on your highest heels and show up and smile, only to see yourself deflated post-whatever? Because you weren’t good enough?

Because I’m pretty sure I have my shit together AND stuff still goes wrong. That’s the point isn’t it? Showing up and facing whatever it is because no matter how much we prepare, we don’t know until we’re in it. Like, knees deep, maybe even waist-high IN IT.

So, how do you do that? Well, I can only tell you what works for me…

  • I make a list of everything involved in said issue and organize it to be tackled in a logical approach
  • I vent to people who believe I’m awesome and also understand what a shit-show this thing really is
  • I actually keep up on my self-care practices (for me: writing, running and reading)
  • I say “no” to other things that could splinter my energy even more
  • I tell big, dramatic, funny stories to people about how ridiculous it all is going / feels
  • I ask for help
  • I allow myself to feel how I feel because there are some things my logical brain can’t process
  • And I  reassure myself to trust – because my version of the outcome is usually a small, often marginalized version of the possibilities that are out there… and if I can just use the above points as support and keep feeling my way through, the actual outcome will be so much more magical than I imagined.

I know this list won’t always be the right combination. Because just as I catch on to what works, my life changes, and I’m back to being in a new situation, learning new things. Like right now, with this big event coming up. It’s bad enough it’s a pain, but now I am completely revamping it due to the usual venue being booked.

But I digress…

I will keep you posted on this event, and how things pan out, if you will share with me what works for you. I would love to hear about it. I think it’s important we compare notes. What does it mean to you to “have your shit together”? How do you keep you keep it all together?

xo

Werkin’ It

Happy October! While I haven’t been here much, haven’t posted a September recap or welcomed in the new month, I am happy to grab this snippet of time. The good news: I’ve been busy with work, running successful events (thank goodness). I’ve had energy, felt good and am generally taking care of myself (read: working out, lowering the bar and not consuming much alcohol). The downside is that there’s only so much time in the day – while I’ve been reading, Project Life-ing and working, blogging has fallen off the wagon.

Not to fear…

I miss this space. And I have plans to say hello a bit more. If you’re out there reading and want to shoot over a comment, y’know, to start the dialogue, I’m open to it. Otherwise, you can find me reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail or attempting to knit this cowl. Oh, and also enjoying that it hasn’t been the death-hotness that it was over Labor Day or last year around this time. Cooler temps make a girl happy.

 

Kindness

I was reading Andrea Scher’s post This Is Me, Looking Into My Own Eyes with Kindness and I thought about my own self-kindness journey. About the stories I tell myself.

I’ve learned:
When I am feeling shitty it’s because I am saying not nice things to myself. I can’t tell you what these things are, there are no articulated words in my head, but I feel it. A spark in my brain to a negative feeling resonating in my wrists and down my calves.

When I am feeling awesome it’s because I am taking care of myself. When I’m addressing myself with the same voice I’d use for a child or my dog. When I allow myself to do the loving things I’d suggest to a stressed out friend. When I follow my energy levels instead of my To Do list for what I can accomplish. Or when I follow my intuition for what I should work on next.

When I listen to myself, things flow. And when things are flowing, they’re oh-so-good.

And yet, there’s still a voice in my head saying, “You’re taking advantage” and “Don’t you think that’s a bit too much now?” Too much rest, too much playing, too much fun…

I am learning. Each day I try to turn the volume down on the meanness and dial up on the kindness. I listen to myself and I hear. I have rituals that feel 100% self-care for me, like writing in the morning, flossing my teeth, and taking photos. There is no pressure because self-care is more than a mani-pedi. I am focused on learning what I need. Not what anyone else tells me I need. Important distinction.

I have yet to get to the level of comfort that Liz Lamoreux’s e-course aims for in Water Your Soul. But both Andrea’s post above and this e-course suggest there is something to self-portraiture… that it is a way of seeing ourselves.

And if we can see ourselves, then certainly we can take concrete actions to care for ourselves.

What do you do to care for yourself? xo

 

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

Naps

This week I was in Boston for work. I arrived late after a delayed plane, so I wasn’t eating dinner until 11pm EDT the first night. After a clunky and uncomfortable 5 hours of sleep, I was up at 6am, not so terrible, except that my body  felt more like 3am. Jet lag is a bitch.

But this isn’t a post about Boston. Instead, it’s about the 23 hours of sleep post-trip I needed to finally feel normal again.

Friday I flew back early – touched down in LA by noon PDT. Somewhere around 4pm I went down for my first nap. I slept 3 hours. It felt amazing. Afterwards, I was still able to sleep 8hrs, going to bed at 11pm.

Saturday morning was good, but I was back on the couch by 1pm and slept through 4pm. I was frantic with how tired my body felt and how much I thought I had to do. “Tell me I can sit here and doing nothing,” I asked H. “Relax,” he said. “Just sit and watch hockey”.

He made me leftovers for lunch. I ate on the couch. The dog cuddled with me. I didn’t watch hockey. I napped through the game and then some more.

Energized from sleeping, I rallied and went out to dinner with friends. By 9pm though, I was yawning and ready for my bed again. Asleep by 11pm, before H turned off the iPad, and slept a full 8hrs again.

This morning, with the sun streaming in, after odd dreams and my bladder feeling like it would burst, I woke up. “I think I finally got enough sleep” I told H. He laughed. Apparently he and my sister were calling me Miss-Sleeps-A-Lot.

But I wanted to write about this for a few reasons.

One: I never used to take naps. Take time out for rest when I have so much to do? Never. But H loves to nap. I used to be jealous, that he could “check-out” in that way, but now it’s the whole “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. Naps do something for my brain and body, like a quick reset button for my energy, a clean slate for my mind.

Two: I didn’t know how to nap, for me. Now, I set a timer for 30min, 1hr and 15min or go for a full 3hrs. If it’s a longer one, I prefer taking a quick shower afterwards. If I do this on a Friday night before we go out, I can stay out and up until 5am no problem. If I catch 45min and a shower before a work event, I can handle the noise / people / event chaos with more energy and less anxiety.

Three: I didn’t prioritize self-care until recently. Now, instead of feeling guilty, weak or stupid, I just nap – and I feel better. End of story. There’s no glory is powering through. This goes for skipping exercise (or not), for eating healthy (or not), and for sitting at the computer for another hour (or not). By listening to what my body really wants, I am able to satisfy my needs and move on. Less fighting, less frustrations and certainly, less tears.

So, I’ve been napping. And while I felt self-conscious about how much sleep I wanted the past few days, I knew that the less than 20hrs of sleep I got during my 4-night trip (I usually need 7.5 hrs per night to feel good) AND the overwhelming amount of people, meetings, and traveling I navigated warranted the need for more sleep than usual. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of – I worked my ass off last week and my body needed this rest to catch up. I’m almost certain I’ll sleep my average 7.5 hours tonight and wake up tomorrow back on track.

But even if I don’t, I can always squeeze in a nap.

How about you? Do you nap? What are your napping secrets? If you don’t nap, why? I would love to hear about your experiences. xo

What A Week

This week was packed and yet, doable. I am so proud of myself for handling all of it so well. So you’ll excuse me a moment if I need to list it all out to reassure myself I am pretty f-ing awesome.

  • Felt anxiety but turned to running, podcasts and good internet blogs to buoy myself
  • Watched Brene Brown on Oprah (omg!)
  • Organized an event for students visiting LA on spring break. Didn’t get home till 11pm.
  • Terrible noise from car’s rear driver side. Bring it in.
  • End up working from a Starbucks for 5+ hrs. Turns out, the need a part from the dealer and they’ll keep the car over night. Bah.
  • Manage to get a ride from a neighbor’s husband. Thank goodness for nice people.
  • Ride my bike to the grocery store for food for the next day’s event. My job should reward me for being the most resourceful & committed employee… ever.
  • Unload groceries. Walk dog. Shower & change.
  • Hitch a ride with my colleague to second event of the week. End up hosting over 150 people (biggest turn out yet for this event). Snag a ride home with an alumna.
  • Sleep less than 7 hours and get up to run events 3 & 4 this week. Hitch a ride to work with my sister. Arrive by 8:45am, which is the earliest I think I’ve ever shown up to the office since the start.
  • Run event 3 while inhaling tiny croissants, strawberries and orange juice.
  • Deal with event 4 and a student with an ego.
  • Wait for my ride home. Latest I’ve stayed at the office for no reason.
  • Go to Wurskutche with H & my sister. Needed that brat.
  • Manage to wake up and run 3m to the car place on Thursday – exercise the dog + car pick up in one. Boo-yah.
  • Meet an awesome friend for early lunch. Do more work. Finally get some rest.

And manage all of this with hardly any tears, no major panic issues, and lots of self-love. Constant reassurance that “I got this” and “I’m really not that busy“. Lots of trust in myself and in things working out just the way they should.

And that brings us to today…
Where I walked the dog, Skyped with my mom, did a bunch more work, finally ordered my Project Life photos from Persnickety Prints, and now I’m chilling on the couch with H & Carter Cash. H is just starting his spring break and I’m looking forward to the weekend together.

Hope you are yours are well xo

Ebb and Flow

If there is an ebb & flow to life, today is an ebb…

That’s what I wrote as a caption to the above on Instagram today. Like I mentioned yesterday, I am experiencing event hangover and PMS. Frustrations with not feeling more awesome, sooner.

I am proud to say that I talked myself through it and here’s what helped (for future-me reference):

  • seeing my therapist – celebrating my work life (more below)
  • going for a fun RUN (Freudian slip? It wasn’t that fun hah)
  • having lunch with someone and good conversation
  • getting something accomplished for work
  • allowing myself to cancel another meeting (personal)
  • ordering pizza and staying in tonight

I also realized today that, until I was going over all the craziness of last week with my therapist, I didn’t take time to talk the whole experience through and really celebrate what I’d accomplished. So I’m keeping that in mind the next few days.

I want to revel in what I did while I also get some rest. Y’know – ebb and flow.

 

Resting Up

It is silly for me to think that after 6 days of stressful, jam-packed events and schmoozing, that one day off would re-energize me.

It didn’t.

The truth is, I was kind of frustrated with myself when I didn’t feel positive yesterday or really couldn’t get out of bed this morning. Because, I mean, why does anyone even need ro rest? What does it say about me if I can’t rally?

But I worked around it – and somewhere during the 4 hrs (torture) of conference calls today, I started to feel better. Once I ate lunch and got some tea into me, I felt even better. And since then I haven’t been able to stop working through a small To Do list.

But I’m also promising myself that after this post, I’m going to lounge on the couch, read Bossypants with the Flyers vs Rangers game on the background and eat the left-over dinner my sister is cooking up.

Oh, and that’s us in the photo above. We’re too cool for school, obvi.

A Lull

Today is a break – a lull – between 2 events finished and 3 to go. Between chatting with people and hosting and hustling. Between not getting to see H or sleeping deeply enough. Between a few good runs and a long run. Between me and myself.

I am doing much much better throughout all of this than I did last year. I learned a lot then, once I surfaced, and I am applying it to this experience now. I have more support. I lowered the bar. I am getting rest. I am avoiding alcohol.

But there’s still a calling of not enough time. Of wanting to cuddle with my husband, take a nap, attend the meeting, doodle a drawing, take a bath and cook dinner. And there’s still emails and phone calls and my upper back / lower neck feeling like a giant ball of a knot.

I skipped another run this week – it was pouring all day. My hope is to run 5m tomorrow, but I think 4m will be enough. I am craving orange juice.

Yesterday I pulled in my courage and my trust – the rain may ruin the event, would we have 40 or 150 people show up, would I be in trouble for spending too much, gosh my pants feel tight and some people are so rude. Would things work out?

And the answer, here, on the other side, is yes. They did work out, I was pleasantly surprised by a few interactions and overall the day looks like a success. I even paid for a woman’s tab at the coffee shop, just to selfishly up my karma.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not exhausted and ready to hide under my covers. That doesn’t mean I’m excited about the next two days. What it does mean is that I am staying afloat, which is more than I can say for last year’s chaos. Staying afloat and quietly proud of myself for doing just that.