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self-care

I’ll take it under advisement.

You know how sometimes someone gives you a thought or anecdote and you appreciate it, but move on, but sometimes someone gives you a random thought or idea and it REALLY sticks and kind of changes everything for the better?

This is that.

Several months ago, I sat in a therapy session discussing a really frustrating pattern I had been having lately.

“I KNOW it’s not a big deal if I wake up really anxious or really down,” I said. “But a part in me kind of panics and is like Oh my god this is a really big deal because what if you don’t ever feel better and what if this lasts forever and how will you ever get things done and be a good wife and be a good mother some day and we have to worry about this and solve it right away and only focus on this.”

“Well,” she responded. “It sounds like your Self is trying to say, ‘It’s okay, don’t worry’. But this other part of you is trying to protect you by ensuring you think about each possible horrible outcome. And it’s very sweet of that part to do so. The problem is, it’s creating fires where they don’t exist, and trying to solve a non-existent problem in a very unhelpful way.”

“YES!” I agreed. “Exactly. And my Self believes all those things: I can be where I am, feelings come and go, this moment is just this moment, but then I start to worry and spin and before I know it, I’ve only been awake for ten minutes and I’ve already come to all these dramatic conclusions about the probability of how successful I’ll be in my life and what the hell is up with that?”

“So, let’s acknowledge that little panicky part,” she said. “Because really, it has good intentions. It’s trying to protect you. But you don’t really need its constant chatter. So allow it to speak, hear what it has to say, and humor it. Respond to it and say, ‘Thank you for your concern. I’ll take it under advisement.’ It’s up to you if you actually take its content to heart and spend the rest of the day pouring over the worries it brought to the table. But this way it’ll be happy, because it got heard, and your Self is still the one making the decisions and calling the shots, so it’s a win-win.”

I loved it.

And I’ve been doing it constantly. Rather than getting upset when I have a thought, or a worry, or a fear, rather than immediately following its instructions (We need to worry about x, panic about y, analyze z) I calmly listen to the suggestion. Because after all, it’s a part of me. And has anyone really had success with internal hatred?

(Years ago, in the midst of a panic attack, I said to a friend, What the f***! I shouldn’t be feeling this way! I just need to snap out of it, this is so stupid!!  She responded with her loving sarcasm: Ohhh, so you’re going to berate yourself out of a panic attack? Yeah, let me know how that goes. Right. Point taken.)

So anyway, yes, I listen. And then I play the role of Leader of the Council Board, and I acknowledge it. Telling it, “Thank you for your concern. I’ll take it under advisement.”

Only, usually, I don’t spend any more time on it than just that. And I move on. Because I am the leader, and I call the shots, and while I am an excellent listener, I certainly don’t have to take all of the suggestions I am given.

Not anymore.

When Filters Fade

Sometimes words happen, and sometimes they don’t.

Today, they did.


I’m over at Some Talk of You and Me, writing about how raw I have felt lately.

p.s. There is no reason for me to link to Some Talk, other than I highly respect their community and feel grateful to them as they continuously honor, respect, and embrace me as a writer. Check them out, read what they have to say, and consider writing yourself. I can’t even tell you how empowering it is.

What I want to tell you

Here is what I want to tell you.

That you don’t ever have to give me a reason for your struggles. There isn’t always one. If there is, you can tell me why. And if there isn’t, it doesn’t matter. It makes you no less deserving of a hug, of a listening ear, of a compassionate smile.

That you can say to me, “I’m so anxious,” or “I’m super down today” or “I’m miserable” and I won’t expect you to know why.

That in sharing where you’re at – to me, to someone else – you are engaging in self-care. Reaching out and allowing others to have compassion for you is self-care. It will in turn allow you to have compassion for yourself.

That you deserve to accept that compassion. That there is nothing so flawed about you that makes you unlovable. That we are all a perfect mess. That however much the fear in your brain tries to spin it, to convince you that you are not deserving of love, of compassion, of self-care, it’s wrong. And if you don’t believe that the voice is wrong, let me remind you it is.

That you will believe it some day. I promise you that.

That I, and many of us in your life, have walked this same path. And we’re still walking it. And we get it. And you are not alone, contrary to that voice in your brain that tells you otherwise. I know that voice. It’s wrong.

That there are no bad feelings. Hard ones, sure. Uncomfortable and painful and sometimes debilitating ones. But they’re not bad. And you’re not bad.

That you can feel what you feel, and walk through the path that you’re going through without judging yourself for it. That you get to  accept it and experience it mindfully.

That the goal of getting through a hard time isn’t to push away the hard feelings, thoughts, or memories. It’s to mindfully experience them. I know that seems counter-intuitive. But if we only embraced, enjoyed, and accepted happiness, joy, and content, we’d only be present for about half our lives.

So: Stay present. Through the pain, tears, memories, heartache, grief. Feel it all. It feels like it will rip you in two. I know. It won’t. I promise. You’re resilient and this will not break you.

<!–noadsense–>

Accepting the storm

When a wave of anxiety hits me, be it for a moment or a day or a week, my first thought is always panic. Why am I anxious, what am I anxious about, why is this happening, what can I do to feel better, why are none of my coping mechanisms making me feel better, why is it a day later and my heart is still pounding? Then is a little bit of, What do I do what do I do what do I do??? And then I breathe. And I remember. I have a choice.

I could fight it. I could wish it away. But that doesn’t work.

I could allow helplessness to consume me. I could decide that there’s nothing I can do, so I will drown.

Or I can accept it.

Because I know how to tread water.

Accepting it isn’t the same thing as submitting to it. Acceptance is peace. It’s mindfulness. It’s riding whatever wave is carrying me, whatever weather the universe is bringing. I don’t fight it. I don’t curse the storm. Nor do I submit to it. I don’t go outside barefoot and in a thin t-shirt and allow myself to be soaked. Accepting it means putting a raincoat on when I go outside into the storm because no, I can’t stop the storm, but I can protect myself.

The power of coping with anxiety is that balance. There is power in acceptance. In knowing, this is where I am. This is what’s happening. I might know why it’s happening, I might not. I might be able to see the way out of it, I might not. But in this moment, I can protect myself. I don’t have to fight it. And I don’t have to submit to it. Just as I can’t fight a riptide, nor do I need to let it pull me away. I know how to tread water. I know how to breathe. I know how to keep myself safe – while being in it – until the waters subside. I don’t need to know why the riptide is happening. I don’t need to understand why the storm hit. I can just be.

And in the meantime? I tread water. I rest. I write. I read. I stretch. I light a scented candle. I color. I drink tea. I breathe. I reach out. I look at the sky. I accept hugs.

And eventually, the storm subsides.

Moving in sync

“Yoga becomes a dance, a fluid movement through the ups & down of our life, a way to approach our life with creativity, a way of healing & health & a way to make space & nourish the Light within.” (Swami Radhananda)

I am going to attempt to put into words something that I feel, and therefore something that has no words. Which means this is likely going to make no sense. We’ll see.

Do you ever feel like your system, your unit of a body and mind, your person, is out of whack? That things aren’t in sync, things aren’t moving together? That’s something that I feel sometimes, but to describe it…well, I’m not sure. Imagine a time when you were stressed, or sick, or anxious, or sleepy, or just “off”. Can you imagine your heart beating at one beat but your thoughts spinning to another beat and you just don’t feel like you’re one? Like you’re a bunch of different parts inhabiting the same space but not flowing together? (Does that make any sense? And if someone can explain it better….comment away!)

So that happens to me sometimes. And sometimes it’s because I’m anxious or upset or stressed but also sometimes I think it just happens. Not because anything is “off” or “wrong” but because sometimes things just don’t flow together. Like if you and a bunch of people are trying to bounce basketballs at the same time. You might start off together but ultimately you’ll be bouncing at different speeds after a while. Just because things move out of sync. Or an orchestra playing while someone sings and sometimes the singer isn’t exactly on beat with the music.

When that happens, I feel disjointed. I feel my heart beating at one pace, my thoughts flowing at another rate, my blood pumping at a third rate, and it’s near impossible to focus on one, to know which to listen to. (As a side note, I think this is one of the [many] reasons I bounce my leg up and down. Sometimes I bounce it when I’m stressed or anxious but sometimes it just feels good. And it’s almost like if I focus on the vibrations of my leg jiggling, it helps the rest of my body get in sync and vibrate/move at the same beat. And that makes me think about stimming and of course our kids stim, because not only is it organizing and calming but it just feels good and it helps everything become one whole instead of a zillion different parts).

And yoga helps. I love yoga for 98123987 different reasons but one of my most favorites is at the very end, during savasana when I close my eyes on my mat and just feel ONE beat. One flow. One rate. One pace. My muscles, my breath, my thoughts, my blood, they are all moving in sync. It’s one of the most calming and grounding feelings there is.

And that’s what I wanted to try to say.

A different type of self-care

I have had some sort of sore throat/ears are full/swallowing gives me sharp pains/no energy/other pleasant symptoms going on this whole week.

And I haven’t gone to the gym, or exercised, since then. In fact, I’ve barely done anything after work besides lay on the couch and occasionally go into the kitchen to make more tea.

This will resonate with you in one of two ways. Either you’re thinking, “Well, that makes sense, I would hope she’s done nothing but rest” or you’re thinking “Oh that’s so frustrating to lay around and do nothing.”

When you’re sick, you need to rest. But that statement, which should be so simply interpreted, has so many complex layers. Like, my mom reminding me, “When you’re sick you have to take care of yourself.” But going to the gym IS taking care of myself! Working out, in whatever form, helps my brain calm down, helps my digestive system do its job better, helps me feel grounded and strong and solid. So my self-care IS going to the gym! How could I not do it? Plus, in the spirit of being real and raw, I will admit that a part of my brain did start asking me, “Do you need to worry about this? Will you lose muscle or gain weight from laying around on the couch and doing nothing?” The good news? The core part of me, the healthy strong wonderful part of me, that had taken a backseat the past few weeks, did feel a little apprehensive but spoke up and quickly answered, “No. It feels weird and it feels different but this is NOT something I need to worry about.” And for the most part, I didn’t.

Anyway, I guess what I’m mulling about in my minds is how important it is to remember that self-care takes many forms. And it can look different on different days and in different situations. So in this case? Self-care is laying on the couch and napping and eating a lot of brown rice pasta smothered with cheese. Another day self-care is a hard workout at the gym. And the same goes for anything – some days self-care is drinking two glasses of wine and other days it’s not. Some days self-care is calling a friend, other days it’s having alone time.

Re-reading that I’m struck by (duh – a should’ve been obvious conclusion) the word balance emanating from each of those sentences. And of course! Isn’t that what everything is about? Finding a balance between…well….everything?

I am finding balance. My tea and blankets and books and naps have served me well and I have stretched out my body before bed and in the morning and my body feels good and glad that I rested it and THAT was my self-care these days.

Just go!

I didn’t want to go to yoga today. I got home, my head felt heavy, and I lay (laid? Whatever) down on the couch.

“I’ll skip today. I just can’t do it today.” I tried to tell myself. But, turns out I argue fairly well (ha! If you know me well, this is an understatement). So, I reminded myself,

“Dude. What are you thinking? Yeah, you’re tired. But yoga wakes you up. And your Tuesday yoga class is your favorite. And it has never left you feeling less than ecstatic, proud, strong, energized. So put on a scarf and mittens, and go. ”

So, I did! I can’t even believe I contemplated skipping. I love yoga, I love Tuesday yoga, and I feel so so so good now.

And on that note….
image

FYI, I actually do like lifting. But I literally laughed out loud at this.

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