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My Happy Place

I went to Bikram today for the first time in ages. In fact, I think I’ve been a total of twice since I became pregnant with the boy (in 2011). However, even though it’s been about four years since I’ve been and even another year or so before then since I’ve been regularly, it still felt just like coming home.

I was so nervous before – worried about everything from the way I look in my yoga pants to passing out or throwing up in class. The latter didn’t happen and though I didn’t look the way I did the last time I went to class, right when I entered that room and looked at myself in the mirror, all the judgement escaped. I realized that those are the only times I ever feel that way. I’m always so hard on myself, constantly critical. Until, that is, I’m standing in front of a huge mirror with myriad other people in various levels of undress. It’s a bit odd, but I seriously just found my people.

Now, however, I have a headache and I’m really sore.

I can’t wait to keep going and I can’t wait to start feeling that sense of peace within myself outside of the yoga studio and for longer amounts of time. I desperately long for it. Though I feel slightly trepidatious, I also feel pretty excited.

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New Year, New Me?

So, it’s been awhile. What’s new, you ask? Well, we moved to the US. Finally! I’ve now been through all the stages that a move like that brings with it, starting with absolute joy, spiraling through rage and depression (mostly surrounding health care frustrations and costs) and ending up with a bit of reality: confused, trepidatious and mostly, content.

We are here, in New Jersey and I’ve actually had to turn in my California drivers license to get a New Jersey one, which I think may be where most of the anger has come from.

We’ve been through quite a bit, actually. I wouldn’t really recommend moving across the world with a one year old and a three year old. It’s pretty stressful. I think my husband and I have taken the brunt of that stress, both individually but mainly as a couple. I’m not quite sure how that will play out, but I imagine it will take some work on our part.

But all that aside, like everyone else, I’m really just posting here to write out my resolutions. I think that not only do I need to focus on myself, but really, it just might be the best way to help my relationship with my husband as well.

So, here we go:

  1. Go to yoga at least twice a week (thanks to my mother, who is paying for Bikram as a Christmas present)
  2. Hit my step goal at least four days a week (10,000 steps a day)
  3. Kiss my husband intentionally at least once a day
  4. Blog once a week – hopefully with more care and attention than right now (I’m watching Notting Hill – it’s been a long holiday and an even longer weekend).

I shall write again next week – or hey, maybe sooner – and update on my progress. I’m starting yoga tomorrow and am very excited about that.

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Today is Just as Good as Tomorrow and Tomorrow is Just as Good as Monday 

 

This is not me. Nor is it a realistic portrayal of anyone actually meditating.

 
Read that title again. Bam. Mind blown, right? You’re welcome. And yes, you can quote me. 

Okay, so it didn’t really come from me and the idea isn’t completely unique, either. A friend who’s a personal trainer said it to me when we were talking about my exercise regimen. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say that I’ve since lied to her a few times about having accomplished said regimen, when in fact, I’ve done nothing. Though I haven’t reaped the benefits as of yet, what she said really stuck with me, and though I don’t recall her exact quote, it’s turned into what I’ve written in the title: Today is just as good as tomorrow and tomorrow is just as good as Monday. 

I’m pretty sure it has something to do with not being a perfectionist. Or not putting off things that are important. Or something. 

Like I said, this hasn’t yet inspired me to start exercising (Though, I will. I’m starting Monday. I kid, I kid.), but it has inspired me. Oddly enough, that and a post I read on Elephant Journal (I’m not going to link it today because I’ve already read my 3 free articles for the day. If I remember, I’ll come back and link it. It’s definitely better reading than this post.) has inspired me to start meditating. Now. As in, I just did. For all of 5 minutes. On a Tuesday. #winning

I’m embarking on a journey that has been long overdue and that has been on my mind for some time. My soul is not at peace. And I don’t mean the sort of peace that comes with enlightenment or anything. I mean, I am not okay. Im not okay with God, with life, or with myself. I don’t handle stress well. I’m having major physical problems and lack the will power to do anything to change what’s causing the problems. I’m impatient and out-of-control. And I’m spiraling. Furthermore, if I’m really honest, I don’t know how much more I can take. I haven’t actually thought about killing myself, as the idea of leaving my children without their mother makes me want to climb into bed with each of them right now and kiss every inch of their beautiful selves, but I know that those thoughts will come if I let this go on. I’m stuck in all the horrible traps that most people in this modern age are (according to any hippie magazine, at least): addictive behaviors, inflammatory diet, wallowing in negativity, excessive self-involvement/ego and anger. I’m angry at myself, at my husband, my son and daughter, my parents, my friends, strangers I pass on the street, but most of all, I think, I’m angry at God. 

So, I’ve been slowly working my way up to doing something about it. And I really do mean slowly. But that’s okay. Because today is also as good as yesterday, I hear. Okay, I’ve never heard that and just made it up, but I’m sure it’s also true. 

So here we go. 30 days of meditating. NO EXCUSES. No judgment, no expectations and no dogma (of my own invention). 

How did the first night go, you ask? Well, I’ve already learned one thing: the bedroom of your child who has a cold is not the best location to choose. Every sniffle and cough had me opening my eyes, no matter what I told myself about letting sleeping babies lie (Or something. I’m continuing with the cliché theme.). 

Beyond that, I felt a bit silly and yet really amazing for doing it. Just the act of sitting and straightening my back into proper posture felt like the promise of relief to come. 

I tried to delve into love. I realized, if I know what I’m missing – this joyful, unconditional true love that I can almost imagine, then that means I must have felt it before. Which means it’s real. Which maybe means God is real and perhaps He hasn’t abandoned me. 

Anyway, nothing too deep to report. I basically started writing this post in my head about 30 seconds in and kept trying to bring my attention back to my breath… But I sort of wish I hadn’t because what I wrote then is waaaay better than what I’m writing now. Regardless, I shall continue. For 29 more days. 

Not Monday, but tomorrow. 

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Night Night

I sort of skipped a few days of the Abundant Mama Rise & Shine Challenge, which was only halfway my fault. For some reason, I failed to receive a few days’ emails, which previously I would have taken as solid proof that the universe was actively trying to keep me from being happy and proactive; I’m pretty sure that’s crazy, though. Beyond that, I think this baby must be going through a growth spurt or something. I have been SOOO tired this week. In fact, I slept until 11:00 AM yesterday. That’s insane. I don’t even remember the last time I slept that late. I obviously needed it and today (after sleeping in until 9:00 AM, bless my husband), I feel like a person again. Still a very large, uncomfortable one, but a person nonetheless. 

Now, I’m ready for Day Two (How many days later? Ah well, better late than never, right?). So, here goes: 

Today, your challenge is to focus on your nightly bedtime rituals as a family. What nightly ritual can you do before going to sleep to really foster an earlier — and more sleepy — bedtime?

I’ve been thinking of this, even without having read the email. I don’t have a very good nightly ritual at all. In fact, once our nighttime routine with the boy is finished and he’s asleep, we basically sit in front of the TV or computer until it’s time to be asleep, or well past that time. And that just doesn’t work. I feel unprepared, sort of cheated and unfulfilled when I go to bed, which leaks into my sleep. I am also prone to insomnia, so all of those feelings don’t help quiet my mind, which is what I need before bed. 

So, how do I quiet my mind and prepare myself for the next day? Well… again, a big part of it is doing yoga sometime throughout the day. I notice that even if I do yoga in the morning, I sleep better at night. Another aspect of the peace I’m searching for would come from having accomplished in the day. Sure, most days I manage to keep the boy alive – and that is saying a lot considering his favorite thing right now is “big jumps” and he will jump off of anything and everything BACKWARDS, but there has to be more than that. I don’t sleep well when the kitchen needs cleaning or the toys need tidying or things on my to do list are not getting ticked off at all. So, my day needs to be more organized (which will hopefully happen as my morning routine gets better). 

The worst thing, though, that TV gives me is a feeling of utter lack of control. I turn it on and boom, it’s 11:30 and I haven’t even washed my face and am exhausted and haven’t done anything I wanted to. It’s like some sort of time warp. But not in a good way. So, unless I’ve gotten a lot done during the day and the kitchen is cleaned and there is something specific on that I want to watch (versus just zoning out to be watching something), no TV at night is my first rule. 

Instead, I’d like to read in bed. It’s something that I love (versus TV, which is just something to do) and it relaxes me. So, you know, it’s a given, really. 

I suppose here is how my evening should go:

8:30 – 9:00 The boy goes to sleep – Daddy (or I) put boy to bed whilst I (or he): 

8:30 – 9:00 Tidying/Loading & Running Dishwasher/Hanging Laundry/Etc

9:00 – 9:30 Stretching/Washing Face/Brushing Teeth

9:30 – In Bed: Reading and/or Talking with my Husband

10:00 – 10:30 Sleepytimes 

I suppose that’s sort of a boring routine, and doesn’t add a lot of “me” time in there. I guess the best thing to do next would be to come up with things that I can do when there isn’t much tidying and cleaning to do. And sometimes, that can include TV. 

Now, though I have to stop because my son has been putting EVERYTHING under the sofa and since I told him that I would stop getting things for him, he decided to crawl under the sofa and he got his head stuck. I guess I need to do something about that. Sigh. 

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One Glorious Week

Those of you that suffer with depression, anxiety, or any of the various energy-sucking diseases that seem to be running rampant nowadays will understand me when I say that I’ve never felt “normal”. Those of you that don’t will quickly respond with: “There’s no such thing as normal”, which is particularly annoying because in this case, there truly is. And now I know for sure because I’ve felt it. For one wonderful week, I was normal.

It occurred around 2 or 3 weeks after I started taking my thyroid medication and took me completely by surprise. We were back home from over a month of holidays – most of that spent in California and the rest in England and as you can imagine, it took all of us, but mostly the boy, quite some time to recover.

Just before we left for our holiday, I had hit a low point. I realized that I’d been unhappy for far too long. That I’d held parts of myself back from my husband for far too long. That I’d been uncomfortable about sex and my past for far too long. That I was sick of constantly thinking about how fat I felt. That my negativity was adversely affecting me, my husband, our relationship and worst of all, my son. Of course, I’d had these moments before, where I’m fed up, or, as I always jokingly say, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired”. It’s never very funny, though.

The good news was I was going home and home is where my therapists are. I don’t mean that I have multiple head doctors (though I have), I mean all my alternative therapy peeps, or my “hippie doctors”. I have my acupuncturist, my chiropractor, my cranial sacral therapist, my homeopath and many more. Best of all, my mother had made a few appointments for me with someone new – a musculo-skeletal therapist (basically, a glorified massage therapist). Apparently, this woman had some sort of psychic abilities. And despite the fact that I really dislike people with my name, I decided to give it a go.

The moment I walked into her room, I could tell she wanted to say something and was holding back, unsure of what my reaction would be, as we’d never met. It took her about 5 minutes to say it. Basically, she told me that my whole body was so stressed out trying to protect my soft little innards, that she wasn’t sure she’d even be able to work on me. Then she asked me what the sex thing was about, if I’d been molested, abused, what. I admit I was taken aback. In all my years (and years and years) of therapy (both “real” and with all my various hippie doctors), I’ve never talked about my issues with sex. In fact, until I met my husband, I’d never really even let my mind go there. But as we talked, I realized that yes, I do have major issues… but more on that later. I’m talking about the good stuff now.

Anyway, suffice it to say, I was impressed. Not only did we talk about the sex thing, but she confronted me about my negativity. She told me that if I treated my child the way that I treat myself, he would be taken away from me. She said that if I don’t make a change, it is going to destroy my marriage. I knew she was right. I was sobbing: scared and yet somehow lighter from the realization.

I haven’t really dealt with that yet. I’m still pretty negative. I still think about how fat I am practically every second of every day. I still am far too judgmental of myself and my husband (the poor man). BUT, another important thing that she said was that if I get on a proper dose of thyroid medication, most of this stuff will sort of take care of itself, or at least be that much easier for me to deal with. That was the biggest thing she told me, that I have Hashimoto’s Disease – I’m still figuring out what that means. Worst thing? I should go gluten free. Best thing? It’s an answer. An answer to everything.

I started taking the medication after being properly diagnosed by a “real” doctor. Of course, I started on the lowest dosage and then waited until I got home to Germany to deal with all the testing and figuring out my proper dosage with my doctor here (mostly because it’s free). I didn’t notice anything for about three weeks, though it was hard to say because I was on holiday, then we were traveling, then I had jetlag (and the boy will grab at ANY excuse not to sleep), etc etc. So basically, I had no clue how I felt. Then it hit me. One day, I woke up early, having already been woken up about three times in the night by a crying baby who just wants to play, and felt fine. Even in my best days, I’ve never just felt okay in the morning. Even if I sleep for 10 hours. Even if I wake up to no alarm. Even if I’m brought french toast in bed. I despise mornings (and judging from my experience of them, they feel the same way about me).

Imagine my shock when I wake up at 6:30 and just pop out of bed. Oh what a beautiful morning, and all that jazz. But it doesn’t stop there. I go for a run. In the rain. I eat healthy all day – without even thinking about it! Just because it feels good. This continues all week. I run three times. I do my 30 Day Shred video three times. I am gluten and sugar free all week. I am on my phone less and playing with my son more. I happily ignore little comments my husband makes that mean nothing, but would normally make me cry and cause a fight. On Saturday morning, after going out the night before and drinking a bit, I wake up and a single negative thought flits into my head, the guilty one that I always have when I sleep in, or go out, or drink… Or do anything, really (guilt and I are real close). And here’s where it gets real – I ignore it. I acknowledge that I’ve had the thought. I accept it. I sigh. I let it go. AND I STILL FEEL HAPPY.

This is something therapists, my mom, my friends, everyone has been telling me to do my entire life. When therapists say “just look at the thought and let it go”, I always nodded my head, thinking, what the hell are they talking about? I just didn’t understand how. I couldn’t fathom having any sort of control over thoughts like that. And then it just happened. All by itself.

Glorious.

But, like anything too good to be true, the week came to an end and, it turns out, I am not on the proper dosage of my thyroid medication because I came down again. And it hasn’t been good since. But now I have a goal. And even better, I know it’s doable. I know I can be normal.

Boy am I grateful for that glorified massage therapist.

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Note to Self

    Rules

These ideas have all been expressed before, in list form even. Probably even all together in the same list. But suddenly, today, standing in the bathroom just before bed, they seemed to come to me in language I understood. I need to repeat them. Once or twice. Daily.

1. Don’t allow yourself to be such a perfectionist that you forget to allow yourself to be good at and dedicated to the things you choose to be.

2. Do not allow yourself to be so guilty that you truly don’t see the difference between certain oft-judged behaviors that you truly enjoy and ones that are truly harmful.

3. Do not allow yourself to be so replete with thee, that you forget to be truly you (Or, you know, whatever that poem by Sir Thomas Browne says…).

4. Do not give your thoughts so much credence. You needn’t perceive every negative thought as a failure to be grateful.

5. Do not devalue your contribution to the world, no matter how small.

6. Do not feel that you need to numb yourself to get through the day – YOU ARE HAPPY NOW.

7. Don’t waste any more time imagining the person you should be.

8. Don’t listen to the fears in your head – They are lying to you! All those bad things won’t happen.

9. Embrace your happiness today, not when you think you deserve it at some point in the future.

10. Stop thinking that there are any requirements to happiness other than the ones you’ve already got.

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Why rainy day gratitude?

I have been trying to find a journaling/blogging/writing style that will result in my being: A, an excellent (and quite possibly published) author and B, a happy, successful and, while we’re at it, thin individual. As you will note, this is my first post on this blog (that I started months ago). So far? Not published. Not successful. Not thin. Sigh.

In 2011, I tried listing three things I was grateful for every day, in the hopes that I would magically turn into one of those people who wakes up every morning beaming sunshine instead of wanting to punch my morning-person husband in the face. I think I made it about 66 days or so, which is pretty damn good, in my opinion. I still, however, want to punch my husband in the face in the mornings (or more so now, my 1 year old child – which I’ve heard is an even bigger no-no). I also noticed a pattern; A slightly disturbing one, if I’m being honest. I would say, generously speaking, at least 60% of the things I was grateful for were food or food related. hmm… Not really helpful for that whole “thin” thing, for starters.

Now, was I grateful in the “Thank you, Lord for this food which nourishes my body and gives me energy to take on my day with zest and joyful intention”? No. It was more like “Yay, pizza!”. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some pizza and am truly grateful for the Domino’s man that brings it to me on Pizza Fridays (Yeah, that’s how we roll around here). But there’s something seriously wrong when your husband takes you on a weekend trip to the glorious city of Milan to see the spectacular Tori Amos in concert and all you can write about is the freakin pasta (mmmm…. pasta).

So, what’s my problem? Well, my issue with the Milan trip is that I was 2 months pregnant and terribly nauseated the entire time (and let me tell you, that bus ride from the Milan airport into the city center is NOTHING to be grateful for). My issue currently is that I live in a country where I don’t have many friends, I don’t speak the language and it rains. A lot. My “bigger picture” issue is that I have battled depression and anxiety for most of my life. (And, after all, what’s the best way to deal with a social anxiety disorder? Why, move to a country where you know no one, don’t speak the language and have to deal with new and horrible situations every day. In the rain. Of course. SMH.)

Am I here, then, in this blog, going to try to rectify all that by again trying to make grandios declarations of my gratitude for all to bask in how wonderful I’ve dealt with this ridiculous situation I’ve put myself in? No. Here, I am going to be real (finally). Sans “shoulds” and “should nots”. I’m going to acknowledge the striving towards true gratitude I have always had, but I’m also going to allow for the rainy days, even if they come weeks in a row (which they do – seriously, this country sucks).

I am also NOT going to feel bad for being extremely happy and grateful about pizza.