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.