Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year, New Start

With 2009 right around the corner, it's hard not to think about resolutions. It’s an inevitable occurrence that after people scream ‘happy new year’ on that magical night, the very next thing they do is make a resolution. Now I say it’s a magical night because it’s a time when you can start over – and who doesn’t like a fresh start? It’s a time to put grudges aside, regrets behind you and aspirations in front of you. I love New Years Eve, but the one part I don’t love is the resolutions. I always wind up breaking them or becoming less committed after 6 months (if I even last that long!) So this year I’m trying something different. Instead of making a laundry list of things I want to improve about myself, I’m going to jot down goals of mine. I’m not going to spend time focusing on my flaws and making resolutions to ‘fix’ me. I’m going to write down things I want to do because they make me happy. I’m going to write down things that I believe will be fulfilling and help make me a better person. I’m going to write down things I’m scared to do so I at least take one step closer to confronting a fear. I’m going to write down one spontaneous thing that’s outside the box so I don’t fall victim to living in a rut with no surprises. And I’m going to write down something nice that I can do for the people I care most about, because let’s face it, without those people I wouldn’t be where I am today.

So here’s a sneak peak at my 2009 Goals List (which I will pull out of my pocket at 12:01AM on January 1st and commit to):

1) Compete in a 10k
2) Take one trip to another country
3) Make a new friend
4) Strengthen a bond with an old friend and
5) Share my workshops and classes with as many people as I possibly can!

Now this is just the beginning… I could go on and on! But I think it’s a pretty solid start. Make 2009 your year too! Think about your goals and aspirations, think about things you’d love to accomplish or try. Tomorrow is about starting fresh. There’s never a better time than now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

HAPPY Holidays

I know holiday time can be a stressful time. Running around from here to there, worrying obsessively about the perfect gift or making the perfect meal, being anxious wondering if you are a good host (or doubting your ability to pull a party together), annual work reviews... the worries are almost limitless - if you let them be!

Stress and this time of year can more often than not go hand in hand, but one thing to remember is that stress doesn't have to launch into mind crippling anxiety. I feel like my to-do list is endless and my responsibilities continue to mount, but I try to take a step back when I get overwhelmed and think of happy things and things I'm grateful for. Because, after all, isn't that what we all really want to think about? So what if I burn the turkey, pour too much dressing on the salad or drop the bread on the floor? I'm still getting to hang out with family and friends, some of which are the coolest people I know. So what if I hit traffic on the way to my in-laws house? It's just more time I get to spend with my hubby singing christmas carols off-key. And who cares if I didn't get everyone the "perfect" gift? (Isn't that what gift receipts are for? I'm kidding!)

Take time during this hectic season to appreciate everything going on. Take a moment to spend time with a family member you don't see very often, allow yourself to become engulfed at dinner table conversation and commit to memories the smiles you see when people open their gifts and know you put a lot of thought into it. Be grateful. It's something we can all do, but rarely take the time for.

Happy holidays to all! Here's to all of you, your journeys and the new year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Seeing Signs

I have seen more signs from the universe in these past few weeks than I’ve probably seen in my entire life. I think this is because, for the first time, I’m open to seeing them. I’ve had some major issues plaguing my mind over the past couple of months and I feel like I have my answers. Or at least a starting point to the answers. This is coming at a rather exciting time because I graduate from yoga teacher training this weekend. I’ve blogged through the entire journey and it’s been nothing short of amazing. I’ve found my calling and my passion in yoga and it’s almost unbelievable how interrelated everything is.

I’ve met some beautiful people through this training and was lucky to meet some unbelievable teachers. I know the things I’ve learned will stay with me forever, but I’m ready to continue my training and fine tune the things I’ve learned. I hope to one day be able to touch someone the way these people and teachers have touched me. I believe they were meant to come into my life and I’m thankful everyday that I had this opportunity.

This blog is dedicated to the 2008 YDC Teacher Training Graduates. I love you all. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Big Thanks to Fido

I feel like I’m finally starting to understand how my brain works. I believe for the longest time we had a very love/hate relationship. Through high school I completely slacked and my brain pretty much enjoyed a four year hiatus. Once I hit college, I came out swinging and totally immersed myself in my studies. My brain, therefore, spent a good chuck of the time hating me. Then I thought we worked out a good compromise when I landed a mind stimulating job… but then, as I progressed within my personal and professional life, anxiety began to plague me almost daily. So I decided to sit down and listen to what my brain, now feeling like I was completely disconnected to it, had to say.

So it turns out, I’ve been bored. I really, truly think that’s what can be traced back to months and months of agonizing anxiety. When I was running steadily (now it’s a pipe dream with my sched and this freezing cold weather!) I was happy. When I’m doing yoga I’m happy. But when I’m in spin class, weight training, or entrenched in a Vinyasa I’m downright elated. I kind of equate this process to when we first brought home our puppy. He was 2 months old and a terror. I cried every time I saw him. I really thought he was brought into my life to drive me over the edge of insanity. These feelings are similar to how I felt in the throes of anxiety. Aggravated, tired, at my wits end…

Then we figured out this four-legged fiend and found that when we walked him extensively and took him to the park and played ball with him, that night (and sometimes even the next day!) was a complete pleasure with him. He snuggled and cuddled and resembled a normal dog – not the out of control, ADD, ball of fur he was for the first 12 hours of the day.

So here’s my analogy - when my pup got exercise and stimulation he was much happier in the end. He was calm and loving and fabulous. When he wasn’t played with, he turned into a ten pound tyrant. So, when I pretty much went into autopilot and checked out of being active within my life, my brain went haywire. It caused massive distress that leaked out in all kinds of “fun” ways. When I’m in a spin class, working out with my trainer, doing challenging yoga poses… I’m in the moment. My body and brain are one for a moment and they are both getting out loads of pent up energy. The end result? A much happier girl. I’ve become somewhat obsessed with my Vinyasa classes. It was one of the first times that for the entire hour and a half I never once peeked at the clock. Boredom is near torture for me and its so relieving to not only know it, but understand it. I’m happiest when running around from work, to gym, to yoga class then coming home and making dinner while simultaneously dusting the house and folding laundry. The word ‘busy’ used to be synonymous with ‘medieval torture device’ for me, but now I know I’m so much better off with lots to do! And this in turn has been CRUCIAL for me in overcoming my anxious episodes.

In conclusion: my dog has brought me closer to understanding how my mind works.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Finding My Paradise

This weekend was pretty amazing. I had yoga class on both Sat and Sun and was mentally prepping for the sheer exhaustion that was inevitably going to set in. However, it turned out to be the most eye-opening experience I think I’ve ever had (so far!) A swami came in to talk to us about life. It’s funny how we spend so much time existing and not living. Well that’s the case for me anyway! It wasn’t until I felt unbelievable anxiety that I sat up and paid attention to my life. It wasn’t until then that I started questioning things. Much like when you run yourself down you get sick because your body is telling you to “stop!” for a minute, my anxiety was knocking on my head seeing if anyone was even in there anymore. My dissatisfaction with what I let me life become manifested into anxiety.

So swami sat with our little group and we talked about life. We talked about what we did and things about ourselves, but he caught us off guard when he asked where our perfect place to live would be or what we’d ideally like to do. Almost everyone’s breath caught in their throat and the silence was palpable. No one knew. And even if they had a small inclination as to where their paradise might be, they had no way to get there. It was just a dream that was destined to stay buried under the “I should’s” and “I have to’s”… We have been so swept up in the daily grind that we forgot what brings us happiness. Talk about me being meant to have this man in my life… wow! This has been my struggle for months and months! I know I’m currently unsatisfied with where I am right now, but I didn’t know how to “fix” the issue. Swamiji helped me realize where my passions lie and also how to go about obtaining them. And there was something so therapeutic about having a person filled with nothing but joy and love believe in you. I think that is something that people are starting to lose. I was a huge doubter of almost anyone and anything. Anytime someone wanted to step off the “right path” or working 9-5 and clocking in the hours, I thought they were crazy. What it really was was that I wanted to do the same thing and didn’t have the courage or belief in myself.

I walked away from my weekend filled with faith. Not so much from the religious aspect, but more like the faith one has in one’s self. There have been some dreams and goals that my hubby and I have talked about but I never really believed in the goals. Well, I didn’t believe they would happen for us the way we wanted. Now I have faith. Hubby and I aren’t going to make any rash decisions (as we’re prone to do!) because I have faith that we’re going to be offered opportunities that lead us in the direction we’re meant to be in. I also walked away from Swamiji with so much love and admiration that I wished my family could’ve met him. I wish I could’ve shared these mini-miracles I felt with the people I care about. Even my blog is mushy! I had no anxiety last night or this morning even though I had work. I am at peace inside. And I think this is truly the first time I can honestly say that.

So this blog is dedicated to Swami Sadashiva Tirtha – thank you for helping me find my paradise and opening me up to the faith that my paradise will find me.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Problem and Solution Starts with YOU

People way underestimate the value of pushing themselves. Almost everyone has some kind of fear or limit that they set up for themselves and then convince themselves its ok to never tackle the things outside of their comfort zones. Now I love my comfort zone. I’m a big fan of my comfort zone…. Mainly because I find staying in keeps the anxiety at bay. But what I’ve really come to realize is that my comfort zone, while familiar and safe, is also a lead weight around my ankles. I’ve learned that everyone gets something out of their anxiety. I know its hard to believe, but its true. Most anxious people use their anxiety as a way to justify staying in their little comfort zone. Its important to see how much your anxiety and fears hold you back from your life. And what may be even more important is realizing that YOU have control over your situation and can actively choose to not let your anxiety hold you back.

I’ve recently been putting this concept to the test when, for the past three days, I woke up terribly sick. Now usually my first instinct is to grab immodium or pepto or whatever pill I can to keep the stomach aches and nausea at bay. But for some reason, I hesitated when reaching for the medicine cabinet. I told my hubby that I was feeling anxious and that I took medicine to “get me through” yoga class on Sat and didn’t want to take more medicine so soon again. I hate messing with my system and I know deep down I’m making myself worse. Rather then come at me with multiple questions and telling me to just calm down, P actually talked me through it. He asked me questions about what I wanted to do when I got home from work (so I could concentrate on something fun) and he said to just take one pill with me and take it if I need it. His words hit me hard and I didn’t take any medicine. I went to my car armed with my anti-anxiety CD and some yogic breathing practices and drove the 50 min drive to work. I was exhausted by the time I got to the office, because this stuff is tiring! But that’s OK. I did it. And you know what? I did it the next day too! And the day after that! And NOTHING is more empowering than knowing you have the power to feel the fear and do it anyway. I put myself in this little box of comfort and now I have to take myself out, because if I don’t, I can miss out on so many opportunities.

Find out what you love to do. Something just for you. And go out and push through the fear and anxious feelings and take a step towards it! Do as little or as much as you can, but do something. Don’t wait for the ‘perfect’ time or opportunity, because you will wait forever. And you can’t feel better until you realize that you have the control. It all starts with you – hard pill to swallow sometimes. But your anxiety keeps you as a spectator in your own life. And if you find yourself overanalyzing or stressing over something (which we often tend to do!) then just jump in head first. Make your actions override your thoughts. Trust your instincts.

So do one thing today. If you want to run, then go to one sports store and ask the sales people for recommendations on equipment. If you want to write a book, look online and see if you can find a local library or school offering an inexpensive writing workshop. If you want to take a yoga class, call around to some studios and talk to an experienced teacher that can tell you which classes would be best for your ability level and go do it! Just do it! Trust me, I know this isn’t easy on any level. But YOU are in control and YOU make the choice. Don’t let your whole life slip away or your goals because you felt anxious. With anything you want to do, there is always a first step, which is usually the easiest. Conquer it and conquer your fear.

YOU can do this.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Near the Breaking Point

I cried this morning. Not so much a can’t-catch-my-breath, mascara-running-down-my-face type of crying, but I shed a few tears. I felt frustrated that I let my exhaustion come out thru my eyeballs, but a release is a release and I needed it! I was in the kitchen around 6:30 in the morning feeding all our pets and I just felt overwhelmingly tired and before I knew it – tears. There’s no hiding it, I’m tired. I’m burnt out. And I don’t know what to do. Every morning, when I hear that dreaded alarm clock go off, I squeeze my eyes shut and will there to be an email on my blackberry from my boss saying that somewhere along the line we had forgotten that today is actually some obscure holiday and we have off – enjoy! Then of course I drag my butt out of bed in a haze and try to shower without drowning.

I tried to focus on my relaxation CD while driving to work and it didn’t help. I actually felt a panic attack creeping up, so I quickly switched it off and focused entirely on breathing. It helped and I avoided a full blown attack, but my body is telling me to slow down. The part that I’m unsure of is how I do that. I knew when I decided to commit to yoga I would have to sacrifice a lot. And it’s been fine so far. What I didn’t anticipate was the exhaustion. I can’t afford to take any days off of work, I can’t miss any yoga classes, if I cancel one more time on my personal trainer she’ll probably reach thru the phone and kill me and my husband is about to have a sheer breakdown because what little I have time for around the house isn’t nearly enough to ease the burden on him.

When I start to feel like this, I try to imagine the people that go through so much more than me and are forced to function on three hours worth of sleep. In the grand scheme of things, my exhaustion seems so irrelevant because there are much bigger things out there people have to be concerned about. It’s times like this when I need a gut check. Eventually, my goal is to teach yoga and personal training, but in the meantime I have to do what it takes to reach that goal – and in order to do that I have to sacrifice.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Current Mood: Grateful

I had a very busy, but terrific weekend. I had yoga on Saturday and then my parents came over and took me out to dinner (you’re never too old to be spoiled by mom and dad!). After dinner, while hanging out we got into the discussion of yoga and how my classes are going. I wound up teaching my mom some yoga moves that I think could really help her recovery from her surgery that she had a year ago. It was very intensive and life altering and the more I learn about yoga the more beneficial I believe it could be to a lot of people. I even got my mom to do a pose on her hands and knees – I could cry just thinking about it! I never even saw my mom walk more than 10 steps without getting winded throughout my how childhood and adolescents. It was really an amazing feeling to get to do that with her. Then on Sunday, which was my anniversary (Happy 1 year to me and hubby!) some girlfriends came over to keep me company since DH was away. We had the best time catching up and reliving some of the wedding highlights – and horror stories – while chowing down on pizza. Towards the end of the night, we somehow got involved in an impromptu yoga session! My friend has some back pain and also holds all of her stress in her upper back –or upper traps if you want to get technical- and her shoulders are always drawn upward because of it. Seeing as I truly am a geek at heart, I was inspired to pick up some anatomy books and a book called “Yoga as Medicine” and I have been devouring them. I was able to incorporate some of those techniques in the routine I did with my girlfriend.

It truly is amazing how yoga can help people on so many different levels. I began this journey as a way to seek a healthy outlet for overcoming my anxiety. Now I use it for stress management, help my mom with it by teaching her postures that will strengthen muscles she’s never used before and reduce swelling, I use it for my friend that has a weak back and shoulder issues and on my husband to help alleviate sinus problems. I love that people are seeing a difference in just the little bit that I touch on with them. I actually have people waiting for me to graduate so I can take them on as clients! And I’ve been so inspired that the anatomy book will give me a head start on my next endeavour… getting certified to be a personal trainer. I think the two compliment each other and I’m so eager to get out there and help people that it doesn’t even seem like work. I really feel like I am finally on the right path. I don’t know where this path will ultimately lead, and I’m trying hard not to have any expectations about where I could end up or how far I could go, but I know I’m doing the right thing because it’s not always the destination that’s most important. If you’re not enjoying the journey, then who cares where you wind up? You’ll be miserable until you get there. And where’s the fun in that!?

Yoga is giving me a gift so far beyond what I ever imagined. I feel empowered on a daily basis and I’m able to SHARE that empowerment with those around me. And I ADORE doing it. It took me awhile to get to this point, but I’d go through everything again to get here. My hubby comes home from his trip tonight and the feeling I get knowing that I get to see him tonight is something I’m grateful for. Almost 8 yrs together and I still get butterflies. Yoga also gives me time to appreciate what I have. I know I have setbacks and I’m not 100% over my anxiety, but I have so much to be thankful for and giving back is the best way I know to show my gratitude.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

Have you ever felt insignificant compared to someone? If you don’t compare yourself to other people, then congrats! You are way ahead of the game. But I however, still fall into this trap. Every now and then I get what it is called a “girl crush.” I’ll see a girl or meet a girl and when I learn her story I find out she’s inspiring. Maybe she can balance a full time job with two kids, a husband, volunteer at an animal shelter and still find the time to happily bake a cake. Or perhaps she’s an entrepreneur that founded her own company, jets around the country, manages a team of employees and in her spare time competes in triathlons. You get the picture.

Now immediately, I’m in awe of these people. Then right after the initial impressiveness wears off I get those nagging feelings of how much my accomplishments pale in comparison. Right now I feel so exhausted from work, yoga and fitting in personal training sessions that I’ve pretty much abandoned my goal of running my first 5k this year and I’ve not seen nor eaten a home cooked meal in days! I wonder why some people have all this energy and enthusiasm for life and are truly non-stop while I’m always struggling to catch up. Some people have more experiences in their teens then I may have my whole life… Now I’m still young and I know I have time to do things, but when I look at what other people do (and automatically decide that I at some point want to do it to) I find that I’m going to run out of time. I struggle to balance everything and when I over-plan I get stressed… before I know it I start to feel pangs of anxiety.

I think this is another reason I’m so determined to rid myself of anxious feelings. In the back of my mind I always wonder… if I had the chance to travel and explore the world or run my own company… would my anxiety mess it all up? Would I blame anxiety for incompetence if I did fail? So many fears and questions…

But I do try to look at this as a good thing. I might always compare myself to other girls that I am inspired by or in awe of, but rather then focusing on the negatives in my life when I do it, I should use it as inspiration to change what makes me unhappy. I know my stressing and anxiety tire me out – but I need to look at these girls and try to embrace their spirit and excitement for life. Something interesting that I learned once was that anxiety and excitement often feel the same – what separates them is how they are perceived. So maybe these girls feel anxious when they are out conquering the world, but they see it as excitement. And maybe, as I work on changing my perception, I’ll see it that way too. I don’t really know if comparing myself to people is good or bad… but I guess the lesson to be learned is what I get out of the comparison. If it’s motivation to strive for what I want and the courage to take on challenges, then maybe it’s not such a bad thing. Maybe “girl crushes” are more valuable than we think! And who knows…. Maybe one day I’ll be someone else’s “girl crush!”

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

(Still) Learning from My Mistakes

I hate making mistakes. And I hate being rushed. Perhaps I dislike these two things so much because I feel they go hand in hand. When I’m rushed, I make mistakes. When I make a mistake, I rush to fix it. This is a frustrating way to be. It’s directly tied to my obsession with perfection. My house has to be perfect at all times (I’ve been known to kick hubby out of bed and onto the couch if he wants to sleep late because I need to make the bed before I leave the house). My clothes have to match, my desk has to be neat, I have to be in perfect control at all times. This constant striving for perfection is exhausting and in no way helpful to me. It has me in a constant state of panic that I could make a mistake. And mistakes aren’t perfect. So therefore (and here I’m using those mathematical logic skills) if I make a mistake, I’m not perfect. Gasp!

Most people with anxiety are perfectionists. They are afraid of making mistakes, being (or seeming) out of control and failing. But when you really think about it, how can you live a life free from these things? There are always going to be times when I can’t be in control and it can be as simple as having a friend pick me up when we go out for coffee. I no longer have control. I’ve overcome my fear of failure because I’ve practiced the mantra “the only failure is not trying” until my mind accepted this as a truth, but many other people in the throes of anxiety have not. And mistakes…oh mistakes… how you stress people out! But think of all the things you have learned thru making mistakes. And your concern about mistakes means you care. If you didn’t care about things, you wouldn’t care if you messed up. Mistakes are just that… little accidents that are a necessary evil (and I don’t even really like to use the word evil, but you get the point!). Try to take the pressure off of yourself for a little while and let yourself learn from the experience. I know I still have a lot to work on in terms of my views on perfection… but just acknowledging that I have work to do is the first (and most important!) step.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Stay in the Moment

No longer forward nor behind
I look in hope and fear;
But grateful take the good I find,
The best of now and here.

-John G. Whittier

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Guide to Life

Now I stumbled upon yoga in a quest for natural rehabilitation from anxiety. The more and more I learn, the more connected it all seems to be. I actually feel that there is a reason I’m here. I think there is a reason that I stumbled upon this school, teaching these lessons, with these other students. I’m definitely the lowest on the totem pole and have much to learn… but it’s just all connected. I think I said it before… but the purpose of yoga is the quiet the mind, body and subtle body (soul). Ok tears right there! This is what I’ve been looking for! Once everything is quiet you can get closer to seeing your essence. Now I know this sounds heady and intense and some people don’t even buy into it, but something was said yesterday that gave me chills. We’re currently doing a practice where once a day, every day, we give something away. Now I’ve had some trouble with this. During class yesterday we all talked about our experiences and what they mean. And while I was gearing up to go into the whole “it makes me feel so good to share my things with other people” I heard others not only being totally honest, but feeling the same way I do. It hurts to give stuff away! It’s MY stuff. I worked hard for it. It takes some effort to hand it over to someone else. Have I done it? Yes. Does it still hurt? Hell yeah, it does! My teacher said that this shows us how attached we are to possessions. Totally didn’t see that coming. I thought the point of this exercise was to make us feel good…. Not show us the pain we feel because of our attachment. Chills. The more we possess, the more our things possess us. And the more attachment we have… the less able we will be to let go and get closer to seeing who we really are… or our essence.

We spent a lot of time on the yoga sutras. There are 4 padas (or sections) within the yoga sutras. I am so intrigued by these sutras. To sum it up as best I understand… the yoga sutras act as a map for people at different levels of yoga experience. It’s like a map. It tells you how to get from point A (when you first start yoga) to point B (finding your essence). It explains that there will be obstacles and names them. It tells you how to overcome these obstacles. It really gives guidance for your yoga journey. Could you imagine if we had something like this in life! How amazing! It would describe the journey from child to adult and be littered with useful information such as… unless you are going to be a math teacher you’ll probably never use calculus, things that happen in high school aren’t as earth shattering as you believe them to be, you will grow apart from some of your very best friends, and labor may hurt but the reward at the end of pregnancy is far greater than the pain. Could you imagine if you had guidance to life? And it’s not something that predicts every action you make because there is no fun in that. It’s merely advice for you to take during your inner trip.

I’m nowhere close at this point to seeing my essence. I still don’t truly know who I am. But I’m excited to learn. And I think the most fabulous thing is that we all have an essence. It’s not who we are on the outside or what we do that defines us. What a monumental concept (for me anyway!). So simple and yet so freeing at the same time.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Good Listener

Against my better judgment, I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal and read it while I ate breakfast at my desk this morning. For my job, it’s important that I keep up with the news. However, the news is so dismal that when I actually take a step back and think about where our economy is I can’t believe it’s gotten this bad. I sometimes feel like I’ve been running around with my hands over my eyes. And while I’ll admit that I prefer Vogue over the Times and re-runs of 90210 to CNN, I sometimes wish that I’d sit up and pay attention to what is happening around me before it’s too late.

I’m a huge advocate of introspection. While my “perhaps if I close my eyes it will all go away” mentality of dealing with the negative and upsetting news may seem like it works, it’s not a good way to deal with burgeoning anxiety. It’s actually not a good way to deal with anything. I know I don’t pick up the paper very often (insert embarrassed emoticon here) but every time I do it shows me just how out of the loop I really am. I pick up bits and pieces and probably even enough to get by, but it’s not really enough. Once I saw that I was mimicking this with my anxiety, I immediately stopped and ripped every self-help book off the shelf and tagged each anxiety website I came across. I educated myself on anxiety… the symptoms, the feelings, what goes on in the body, the mind, how it affects me, how it affects others… It is near impossible to solve a problem when you don’t know the facts. And it’s also hard when in the throes of anxiety to stop and work your way –logically- thru it. People with anxiety are emotional reactors. But people with anxiety are also creative, analytical and compassionate. Something that helps me a lot is sitting down and just thinking about things. I need to concentrate and really crawl inside myself to see what’s going on. Recently I’ve been plagued with a rather difficult bout of anxiety. I’ll admit… my first reaction was frustration and disappointment. After all, I hadn’t had anxious feelings in quite some time (yay me!). But, after closer inspection, here’s what I came up with:
1) Hubby was going to be away for work for a few days
2) I had to skip the gym for a whole week
3) I had to rearrange a lot of my sched to accommodate hubby being away
4) I didn’t have anything to do after work

These 4 things for me are a recipe for disaster. The gym is my release. I need the gym. I need the “me time” it gives me. It also releases a lot of pent up frustration that I subconsciously hold onto. My husband being away always upsets me. I enjoy his company and love being around him and I’ve never really been to hyped up on alone time. Rearranging my schedule and trying to take care of all our combined responsibilities by myself has caused me some stress and the kicker… not having anything to do. That sends me into a tailspin. Boredom is the minds worst enemy. At least for me it is! That’s when I spend my time worrying about EVERYTHING because I’m not occupied with anything else. So yes, I had a tough week. But when I took the time to sit down and internally sort out what was going on… I realized my anxiety was the external reaction to what was going on internally. See how important that is? I was so quick to get frustrated and angered by the anxiety (emotion reaction alert!) that I didn’t think to take the time to see what was really bothering me. And once I did, the anxiety dissolved. I talked myself thru it, addressed my concerns (of course I’m anxious with the increased responsibilities, it’s a lot. But I’ll get it done, and if I don’t its no big deal) and let it go. I love introspection, but it takes time to figure it out. Your answers are always there. They may be hidden inside and under layers of emotions, but they are there. That “little voice” or the nagging feeling in the pit of your stomach… those feelings are answers. And if you take the time to listen to yourself, you may be surprised at what you hear.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's Always All Right

I haven’t been motivated to write recently because I’ve had some setbacks with my anxiety. On Saturday morning I felt queasy before yoga and felt sick for most of the time there. On Sunday, hubby and I had a fun day planned of shopping and cake and picking out our wedding album and I woke up riddled with so much anxiety it was exhausting to just keep my eyes open. I immediately got upset because I had been doing so well that I told hubby I was having anxious feelings and didn’t know if I was up for our fun outing. On one side, it was awful to feel this way. But on the flip side, I haven’t had anxious feelings in so long I had practically forgotten how they felt. I kept trying to drum that into my head as I forced myself to go out. We wound up making it to about two stores before I said “that’s it, I’m done” and we headed home.

This situation made me think about a couple of things. First, it made me realize that I had actually gone quite a few weeks without an anxious episode (as dubbed by me), second, I still pushed thru the anxiety and went out… and even though I didn’t make it to all the stores or out to dinner or to whatever else we had planned, I still stepped outside the house and outside of my comfort zone. As for the third thing, I remembered my post on expectations. Could you imagine how I would have felt if my expectations for the weekend were sky high and I felt my anxiety ruined it for me? I would have been so much worse than I was already and it wouldn’t have helped me at all! I was so thankful that I kept my expectations under control and repeatedly told myself that we could always do more shopping or go out to dinner next weekend. The world wasn’t going to end. We’d still have fun. And my husband wasn’t going to serve me with divorce papers for changing the plans. I always feel very self-conscious when I have anxiety. I feel like people get disappointed in me for not having better control over myself. But it is times like this when I need to step inside myself and be my friend. I need to NOT beat myself up to the point of near distortion because I’m having a bout of anxiety. Would I yell at my husband? Would I make fun of my mother? Would I pick a fight over this with a friend? No, no and NO. So why in the world should I wallow in self hate because of something I’m working on? My sister-in-law always refers to herself as a work in progress and I like that idea. Most people are works in progress. No one is perfect and very few people are completely satisfied with every aspect of their lives. Everything is a work in progress when it comes to life and it’s so important to see that it is ok.

Unfortunately, the anxiety didn’t go away Monday morning and I was just as sick. Even as I type this today I feel a little anxious. I do wish I was home on my couch in my “safe” place but that’s just not reality. There is no “safe” place, just a hiding place. I’m proud of myself that I forced myself to come to work and that I’m being productive when all I want to do is hide under the covers. This is the time that it’s most important to be strong. But it’s still ok to have some rough patches. I’ll get thru it. This is just a minor setback on my personal journey. And when setbacks happen, I have to remember to stop and enjoy the scenery…

Friday, September 19, 2008

Conception of Perception

And as I gear up for my weekend of fun, I have to remind myself to keep my expectations at bay. When you have high anxiety, something that causes a lot of it is high expectations. I never used to think I had high expectations. I actually regarded myself as someone with very low expectations. I didn’t think very much of myself, my accomplishments always paled in comparison to those around me and I didn’t expect much from myself. But quite the opposite is true about me. I tend to be a tough critic. And my type-A personality demands that I be in control in almost every situation. What I thought was just a mean streak turned out to be high expectations. Who knew? So when I’m mentally setting up all of these high expectations I EXPECT them to happen. When they don’t, because A) people and things rarely go the way you’d like them to (or plan them to) and B) Who am I to judge anyone anyway, I get let down and the anxiety comes flooding in. So I’m in a constant state of managing my expectations. So while I know this weekend will be fun, I am not expecting some life-altering, mind numbing experience to happen. I want to appreciate the moment and enjoy whatever I find myself doing. I am trying to loosen my grip on my life little by little and let a little more spontaneity in. It’s scary. I was never a “go with the flow” kind of chick, but with a little work I may come closer than I’ve ever been before.

It’s funny how people talk about expectations as always being a great thing. And while they usually are, the small print reads that expectations are good when not sky high. Always expecting life to be fair, people to work hard, friends to care and good things happen to good people is just not realistic. And what’s even more ridiculous is that I climb on my high horse and get immediately agitated at the situation. I spend a lot of my time concerning myself with what “should” be, rather than what is. And instead of accepting things, I fight against it. I fight against what I have no control over based on my expectations of how I think a situation should turn out. So this weekend is about fun and relaxing - with some cake and champagne thrown in - and if our cake is moldy or I spill champagne on myself, it’s ok. It’s all ok because these small instances don’t make-or-break my day. What does make-or-break my day, however, is how I choose to react to these unexpected situations.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Year in Review

Now that the weather is getting cooler its really starting to feel like fall. It makes me realize that 2009 is just around the corner. September is almost over! Before I know it I’m going to be bombarded with holiday parties, get-togethers, secret santa’s and running all over trying to see as many family members as possible. It’s unbelievable how fast it’s all going. It’s also unbelievable because I’ve had a lot to reflect on. This year has been one of my toughest with a nagging bout of anxiety and demands and pressures of life pushing down on me, but amazingly enough, I’ve really weathered the storm.

I was just chatting with my parents last night before yoga class about everything going on and I had some revelations. A couple of months ago I had a panic attack every morning before work, I camped out on my couch all weekend to keep my anxiety at bay and I slept every chance I got since I was borderline depressed. Now, my panic attacks are under control and all of the research I’ve done on anxiety and steps to take to heal have made me a stronger person, I’m doing very well at work and getting the kudos always makes me feel good, I’ve maintained my gym schedule and personal trainer and am finally down a pants size (it may have taken me awhile but I did it the good ‘ole fashion way!) and I no longer lock myself in my apartment because I’m running around to yoga or shopping or hanging out with friends. I was joking with my parents that the year I chose to pack everything in and become ambitious is the year I find myself struggling the most with anxiety. Go figure. But it is funny how things work out. I finally feel like I’m getting myself back. After spending so long trapped in my head I’m finally breaking out. Am I 100% better? No. But am I improving every day? H*ll yeah I am! And you know… that’s enough for me. I was always black and white, right and wrong. There was no in between for me. But now there is. Just because I didn’t wake up and have my anxiety completely gone, doesn’t mean I’m a failure. And I think that’s so important for all of us to realize! My perfectionism is calming down (although I’m still a bit OCD about certain things, but that’s what makes me interesting) and everyone can see the changes. And it’s not even just the weight loss. I’m dressing better, taking better care of myself and ENJOYING it. I’m noticing things that I never used to… like sometimes driving in the car with the windows down with my favorite song on makes me smile or how nice it is to just hang out with my pup in bed while reading a fun book or just joking around with hubby about nothing in particular.

I’ve been through a lot this year and while I once used to ask “why me” now I look at it as a gift. It was an opportunity for me to change. I wasn’t going to do it on my own and my body and mind gave me a swift kick in my a--. I used to scoff at the people that felt their anxiety was a wake up call, but now as I make my way to the other side (the healthy, happy side) I see what they see. In some ways I don’t think any year will stand out to me as much as 2008. But with my newfound steadiness and strength, I’m really looking forward to seeing what ’09 has in store!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Hitting Traffic on My Journey

I can’t believe it’s Monday again. This past weekend absolutely flew by. I had to get up early for yoga on Saturday and was there until almost 5pm. I came home exhausted but invigorated. The class started with an hour yoga session during which I began to cry because it is just such a relief to quiet my brain and anxious thoughts that even it only happens for a minute… the release is so amazingly therapeutic that the only place for the emotion to come out is thru tears. Then we followed that with about 7hrs of learning about and practicing yoga moves. We finished with 35 minutes of salutations to the sun. All in all, it was perfect. We ordered in dinner when I got home because I was beyond tired and the thought of preparing dinner almost made me cry again. On Sunday, I leaped from bed early enough to warrant getting ready and was out the door again before 10am for more yoga. Yoga is intoxicating. And it’s addicting. I leave there feeling so grounded, so safe and so healthy. I walk taller, I speak stronger and I come home excited to show my hubby what I learned. After yoga on Sunday I practically floated over to the book store and picked up (brace yourself) Rachel Zoe’s style book. I sunk into bed and almost read it cover to cover. I had the Chanel movie on in the background and soaked up the fabulousness of having nothing to do. It was a great night.

I’m trying to pull back those relaxed memories and feelings from over the weekend as I sit at my desk pushing thru the day. I want so badly to be home. Hubby keeps calling me, so I know he’s feeling the Monday Blues as well. All we want to do is escape for a little bit and rejuvenate. That’s so crucial, but in our world that unfortunately doesn’t exist right now. We’re slammed with deadlines, projects, meetings, errands, etc. and when we do finally come up for air we’re being bombarded with more lists and to-do’s. Sometimes I feel its best to just put my head down and keep charging forward. Eventually the load will lighten and free time will be abundant. I believe in yoga this is what you call Tappas. Tappas, I’m pretty sure, means to burn…but burning in the way of suffering thru something to get to the reward at the end. Whether it be a difficult and strenuous yoga posture that brings you closer to enlightenment or a hard workout that brings you closer to fitting into that bikini you just had to buy. It all comes down to dedication. If you are dedicated enough, then you really can push thru anything you want to accomplish. And the most important thing to remember is its not even the reward that matters… it’s the journey getting to it that counts. Make it worth it. Hubby and I overlook this on a near daily basis. We work so hard and get so caught up, not only do we never live in the moment or enjoy the journey, we forget why we’re doing it all in the first place.

I heard this saying somewhere and I loved it: A truly happy person enjoys the scenery on a detour.

I try to remember this for two reasons. One being that it shows the importance of the journey and being in the moment and two, it reminds you that detours and roadblocks will happen. And it is at these times that you really need to take a step back, reevaluate your journey and enjoy the scenery as you change pace.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Forget Opportunity, I Need Passion to Knock

Today on my way to work I started thinking about passions. Lots of people have them. My hubby is passionate about video games and usually the gym (when he’s not working so hard!). For some people it’s travel (and I’m jealous of those people!) for some its clothes or fashion (courtesy of my new obsession with Rachel Zoe) and some may be car enthusiasts. But you know what? I lack passion. I feel like I’m in a constant search for the ONE thing that motivates me no matter what. Now I’ve tried to find my passion… I really have. I’ve tried to become obsessed and intoxicated with happiness from the gym, running, writing, reading, yoga, cooking… you name it and I probably tried it (unless it involves heights or spiders – if that’s the case I’m happy to remain passion-less). And while those things make me happy – it’s not always a definite. I enjoy running and pushing my boundaries and seeing how many miles I can add, but there are so many times I don’t give 100% or I avoid the gym like the plague in favor of parking my butt on the couch after work. I thought work was my passion, but it’s not. The reason I say that is because a “test” for seeing if you are happy at work is asking yourself if you’d continue to do what you do if you were financially stable for the rest of your life. That would be a no for me. I don’t have anything that I can completely immerse myself in and be completely satisfied for an extended period of time. I think this is why people see me as flakey. I try so many different things and instantly become enamored with it only to give it up 3 weeks (if I even make it that long) later.

And here’s a concept to wrap your head around on a dismal Friday… how does one find a passion? Are there people out there besides me that can’t even find a passion? I always thought this was like some innate desire and you were drawn to it – but somewhere along the way I missed that call. I guess this is just part of my journey. That’s what they say to me in yoga class. It’s an inner journey. Everyone there is seeking out an internal journey otherwise they wouldn’t pursue yoga. I think this time in my life is crucial because I find myself not even knowing who I am. Whoever I was, wasn’t really me (hence my anxiety developed to unhealthy levels) and it leaves me in this permanent state of uncomfortable. Yeah… I’m really looking forward to yoga tomorrow. Maybe my passion isn’t as far away as I think it is…

Monday, September 8, 2008


I get frustrated very easily. If I say something will take 10 minutes and it takes 15, I get frustrated. If someone asks me to do something, I do it, and they question it, I get frustrated. If I work diligently on a project and someone tells me there is still work to be done, I get frustrated. My frustration usually either dissolves after 20 minutes or turns into me being red-faced and angry. Something that is really starting to frustrate me is my inability to tell people how I feel about something I’m working on. If I don’t think a project is going to be successful because I am on the front-line working on it, I am not allowed to say as much. I need to continue to keep working on it –even after I think I’ve exhausted all possibilities. Sometimes I guess it could be positive – I equate it to the little old lady sitting at the slot machine. She’ll sit there with her unending bucket of quarters, dedicated and on a mission, for hours on end. I used to think she was crazy. Now I believe it’s a tactic, because if that little old lady were to leave and I went over and put one quarter in and pulled that lever and I hit the jackpot, that little old lady would go into cardiac arrest. So I guess, when I really think about it, I get it. I understand the MO of pushing until you go crazy in hopes that you’ll hit it big… but understanding it doesn’t make me like it any better. I sometimes wish I could say STOP, let’s switch gears and try something new quickly before I lose my mind.

On a positive note (because I feel it’s always important to end on a high note) I’m very much looking forward to heading out after work to the park and playing tennis with the hubby. I’m sure I’ll get my butt kicked as usual, but it is fun nonetheless. I have a fabulous pink and brown racket that gives off the impression that I’m more skilled than I actually am. But I think the jig is up when the other players see me spending more time chasing the balls than actually hitting them.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Losing My Perfection

To get the full effect of the title of this blog, say it to REM's "Losing My Religion" tune...

I learned something pretty crucial at yoga today. There is NO PERFECT WAY to do it. I'll say that again... NO PERFECT WAY to pose, breathe, be.... everybody is different and needs to be treated as such. Treating yoga poses as if they were pills (kind of like a one size fits all mantra that they use with medicine) not only defeats the purpose of yoga, but could also cause serious bodily harm. Now as someone who doesn't understand the concept of trial and error (I come more from the school of thought that if you can't do it perfectly, then don't) this is a hard idea to grasp. See I'm doing yoga to help alleviate stress and anxiety yet the thought of doing a pose "wrong" or "not as well as the person next to me" caused me immense stress. The irony is not lost on me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Start of Sept.

Let me start by saying I've never done a blog before. I read them all the time - I kind of feel like they are never-ending books and the writers are the characters. I'm a big fan of blogs. However, I never felt my life was interesting enough to warrant a blog - but now the opportunity has presented itself (and at quite an interesting time in my life) and I feel I should take the chance to write about some stuff.

Well, first and foremost, Happy Fall! It is officially Sept which means it is fall in my eyes. I love the fall. My first anniversary is coming up next month and I am very excited. My husband however won't be around to celebrate this time around. He'll be traveling, but after a wonderfully understanding conversation (with which I spent most of the time screaming through my tears) we decided to pick another day to celebrate and make it just as special. So it looks like I'll still get to gorge myself on year old wedding cake and drunk off champagne. All in all, a win win situation. Oh, and I'll be getting a gift to boot. (So will he of course. I've actually come up with what I consider to be a cute concept for a gift and quite creative considering its coming from me.)

I've also started my yoga certification classes this week. Although my schedule seems demanding and 8 hrs of yoga intimidating, I feel I'm up for the challenge. I also feel its something I need to do. I need to find myself. There's another anniversary coming up - another year spent with anxiety. I learned last night that the practice of yoga is to 'still the mind, body and subtle body' and a quiet mind sounds good to me! It's a foreign concept to me to NOT have a thought racing through my head at all times (most of which are negative) and it must be pleasant to experience. I'm very much looking forward to that part.

I'm also hoping to kind of use this blog as a way to look back through my journey and see my progress. If I keep up with it, which again is not a strong suit of mine, it should be interesting to read. It reminds me of my 8th grade english class. We were asked to write our 25 year old selves a letter regarding our hopes and dreams and where we thought we would be at that (very far off) age. I never did wait until I was 25, more like 19) but the young idealist in me was SO far off from the reality of my life that is was laughable. I said that I hoped I was a vet because I thought my life's work was to save sick animals (meanwhile I'm so busy climbing the corporate ladder that I barely have time to take my own animals to the vet). By the way, I'm kidding about that last part. Not the ruthless, aggressive ladder climbing (well maybe a little!) but I take excellent care of my pets. My dog is my little buddy and in a close tie with my husband for the love of my life.

So in some way I'm hoping to track my life for the next couple of months and hopefully have some interesting things to report. It's time I stop being the reader, and try on character for size.