Friday, August 10, 2018

All's Well that Alicorns Well

Hello friends.  Long time no see.

So, 'round about two years ago, I dove headlong into a midlife crisis.  Thanks to my therapist, I have since come to understand that the "crisis" part of a midlife crisis involves looking at yourself and your life and realizing that you are not living as the person you authentically are.  Realizing that you've been parading around in some kind of costume, acting out a role of who you thought you were supposed to be.  The ensuing shenanigans, then, are just you trying to bring yourself in line with yourself.

My midlife crisis?  Well, I became a yoga teacher.  That's the easiest thing to point to.  There have been an impossible number of internal changes during this transformation that I still don't even have words for, though.  I'm still me, but I also feel brand new and totally different.  Kinda like Twilight after she gets her wings.

If you're a fan of the show you know what a big deal this episode is.  If you're not, indulge me for a moment.  Basically, after studying and working hard her entire life, and having spent the past few years doing deep self work, Twilight Sparkle is essentially promoted to being a princess.  She is physically transformed from a unicorn into an alicorn (unicorn with wings in MLP land).

She's beautiful.  The wings are strong and agile, and Twilight is now imbued with the exciting power of flight.  But here's the thing y'all.  She has little idea of how to use her wings.  She falls or runs into things as often as she flies at first. 

This is more or less how I'm feeling these days.  I know I'm different than I used to be, but I'm still learning who it is that I am now.  What still belongs in my life and what doesn't.

More changes are coming to what my life looks like, and I'm not exactly sure what shape they'll take.  Part of what's changed in me, in fact, is that I'm intentionally letting go a bit of my intense need for control, to let things unfold more naturally.  So I seriously have no idea what's going to happen.  I trust, though, that it's going to be awesome.

So.  You know.  Don't mind me.  Just getting used to my new wings.  But soon enough...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Here's a ridiculous thing.

Hello friends.

A lot has happened since we last talked.  Primarily,
1) I created a mini yoga studio in my house
2) I'm going to start teaching yoga out of that space TONIGHT.

My first offering grew directly out of the work on this blog.  It's called Self Care Check-In, and it's a chance for those who come to get some moral support on their self care efforts.  If you're in New Orleans and would like to join us, check out the studio website for details.

Also, don't worry, I have not forsaken this blog.  I am just slowly coming to accept that my blogging comes in waves.  I hope you'll continue to ride them with me.  :)

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

40 Days of Self Care Day I don't know
Let Go.

Hi y'all.  So, I started this 40 Days project with the best of intentions.  With a solid plan.  With nearly a quarter of the blog posts written and illustrated.  So... why haven't you seen a post from me since last Saturday?

Oh, you know.  Life happened.

Specifically, I got smacked with a wave of depression and exhaustion that all but knocked me off my feet.  This blog is not the only thing that has suffered - not by a long shot.  For instance, let's not even talk about my laundry situation.  Or the cleanliness of my house in general.

So I wasn't able to keep up with my plan, and I'm totally OK with that and definitely not beating myself up about it or feeling like a total failure, right?  Oh, yeah, totally no doubt HA HA HA FUNNY JOKE.  Reality?  Every morning that has passed with no blog post to share has been an opportunity to berate myself about my "failures."  Which are legion.  Just ask me.

But oh hey guess what.  There's a lesson here if I'm willing to learn it.  It's called: let go.  I had expectations of myself (regarding this blog and many other things) that I have not been able to live up to.  Disappointing?  Sure.  Worth beating myself up over?  Nope.  So I'm doing my best to let those expectations go.  I'm doing the best I can right now with everything, and that has to be good enough.

What's your inner narrative when you can't or just don't follow through with what you've planned?  Does it need to soften?

Friday, February 23, 2018

40 Days of Self Care Day 9
You're not getting enough sleep.

I don't know this to be true of course, but statistically it's very likely.  Personally, I can tell you that for most of my life I haven't gotten enough sleep each night.  This happened for a variety of reasons, some of which were well beyond my control or influence.  What was in my control, though, was this: I wasn't allotting enough time for sleep.

These days I go to bed at 10pm at the latest.  (Often it's more like 8:30 or 9pm.)  Any later, and it's not possible for me to have enough time for sleeping before it's time get up and get going again.  How much time do I give myself?  For the best chance of actually sleeping for 8 hours, I allot 9 hours from when I start heading toward bed till the alarm rings in the morning.

NINE HOURS.  Sounds like a ton of time, doesn't it?  And it is.  I trade other things to be able to spend so much time on sleep: primarily television and other such leisure activities.  Because as necessary as it is to have fun time and down time, it's even more important for me to get enough real rest.  I find other times during the day to get a bit of Netflix in.

How much sleep do you feel like you should be getting?  How much sleep are you actually getting?  Is there any flexibility in your schedule that would give you a little more time to at least try to sleep?

Thursday, February 22, 2018

40 Days of Self Care Day 8
Yeah we have to talk about it.

I don't like talking about exercise.

But, like, it's important or whatever.

Exercise is not - and let's emphasize NOT - a magical cure-all.  Exercise by itself, even when done appropriately and consistently, will not make you happy and healthy.  It'll probably help though... eventually.

It's the eventually part that, in my opinion, is not talked about enough.  Some people feel mentally and physically better, happier and more energetic, as soon as the week or day after exercising.  Some people feel this while they're actually still doing the exercise.  Lucky so-and-so's.  And somehow, these people's experience is held up as the norm.  As the only experience, even.  As what SHOULD and WILL happen for YOU, regardless of who you are and where you're at.

So, let's talk about the eventually.  Let's talk about the rest of us.

I'm here to tell you that it doesn't always work like that.  What no one managed to mention in the 1,294,586 times I have been told that exercising will cure all of my problems is that, for some of us, it takes a really, really long ass time to even start working.  That it might not start fulfill all these fantastic promises it makes - alleviating your depression or improving your energy or creating nice tone in your muscles or or or - until you've been doing it consistently for months.

Like, we're talking you've been working out appropriately for your current body and health three to four times a week for six weeks now, and so far as you can tell nothing is happening.  I hear you so hard.  But listen: that doesn't mean it won't.  And in fact, that doesn't mean it isn't.  Stuff is happening; just not stuff you can sense quite yet.

It's frustrating as hell to be a slow improver.  Particularly when it seems like all your friends who are doing Couch25K are getting immediate, fantastic results, and when you tired it you were stuck on day one for three weeks and finally gave up on the damn thing.  Or when your gym is so full of superfit people that you feel like an imposter just walking in.

If this is you, it's likely that only lived experience will convince you that improvement will come.  So I hope you keep right on going with your awesome exercise plan.  I hope you do your best to avoid comparing yourself to others - their bodies, their experiences, and their progress.  And if you can't believe that exercise will eventually do the great stuff for you, I will hold that space.  (Keeping in mind, again, that it is not magic.  Just helpful.)

Do you have an exercise routine?  Do you need one?  Or do you just need some cheering on, to keep going back even though it seems like "nothing is happening"?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

40 Days of Self Care Day 7
Water water everywhere.

Water.  We hear it all.  The.  Time.  Drink enough water!  But, like, what does that mean?  How much is "enough?"  Is it eight cups or two gallons?  Like many things, what I've gathered is that this depends on who you are.  Various factors (sweating frequently, living in an arid climate, etc.) will mean that you should drink more.  But I think what's most important is to set a goal - say, at least 6 cups a day - and stick to it.  Your body will tell you if you need more.  Be ready to listen.

But how to get it done though?  So often, I've had the very best intentions to "just drink more water," and then I realize it's 4pm or 6pm or bedtime and I've only had a cup or two.  How to build the habit?  There are many ways.  For starters there are about a zillion apps for it if you're an app person.  You can track it in your Fitbit app if you're a fitbit person.  You can even have a pet plant that you "water" when you log what you drink - fun!  Literally none of that worked for me.  At all.

What finally did work was finding the right bottle, and carrying it with me everywhere.  (It's this one.  This is not a paid advertisement - I just really, really like this bottle and I think it's functional and reasonably priced.)  I fill it at night just before bed and take my pills with it, and then take my morning pills with it, and then endeavor to have it empty before it's bedtime again.  This, combined with my other normal daily beverages, keeps me at about 9 cups of water per day.  Hooray!  That is, erm, when I do it.

Do you get enough water?  How?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

40 Days of Self Care Day 6
Food for thought.

Food.  Oh jeez y'all.  Food is hard.  Why is food so damn hard?

Our bodies are literally made of and fueled by the food we eat.  So what we eat is of course of crucial importance to our physical and mental wellbeing.  Also, we live in a capitalist society, so what we support with our cashmonnies is important.  So the food we choose to purchase can be of crucial importance for the conscience.  Not to mention the ever-so-complicating issues of food costing not small amounts of money, and the very normal desire to eat what we like.  For me at least, these factors come crashing head to head to head to head each and every time I try to take in a meal.  What to do?

I'm still trying to find my balance when it comes to food.  Have you managed to find harmony among meeting your nutritional needs, purchasing in a way that feels ethically sound to you, enjoying what you eat, and being able to afford it?

Monday, February 19, 2018

40 Days of Self Care Day 5

Happy (?) Monday y'all.  Today I'd like to discuss one of the ways in which I think of self care.

In my mind, self care is divided into three big subcategories:
  • physical care
  • mental care
  • logistical care
And I'll put forth right up front here that every act of self care, in some way, can fit into any of the three categories.  Each act of self care impacts every area of life, for sure.  But the degree of the impact varies.  It seems meaningful to me to assess what goes where because it is then easier for me to see what type of care may need a little more of my attention.  It can be easy for me, for instance, to only be engaging in mental-health-centered care.  And that care is great, but shouldn't be engaged in solo.

So!  What might fit into these categories?  Let's break it down.

Physical Care
  • exercising
  • drinking enough water
  • eating nutritious foods and avoiding processed sugars
  • grooming (showering, brushing teeth and hair, caring for fingernails, etc.)
  • engaging in hugging, cuddling, or other meaningful touch
Mental Care
  • taking my medications
  • going to therapy
  • spending time with friends
  • finding fun and novelty on a regular basis
  • stimulating myself intellectually
  • asking for help when needed
  • approaching all activities mindfully
Logistical Care
  • setting a reasonable schedule that includes necessary activities as well as enjoyable ones
  • opting out of or appropriately planning for stressful or triggering situations
  • allowing enough time to be on time to any engagement
  • staying on task at work
  • getting chores done on the weekend that set me up for smooth operating during the week (getting laundry washed and dried and folded AND put away; grocery shopping AND doing meal prep, cleaning up the house, and so on...)
  • keeping my car in good condition (not full of junk and trash, washed relatively recently, with at least enough gas to get through a normal day's activities)
  • allowing enough time for a full night's sleep
As I said, each of the items in each of the categories impacts each of the others.  But I find the division helpful in assessing where I'm at.

How do you think about your self care activities?  Do they seem to fit into categories to you?  What would your categories be, and what would be in them?  And what am I forgetting?

Saturday, February 17, 2018

40 Days of Self Care, Day 4
What support do you need?

No person is an island.  Nope, not even you!  It's self care that we're talking about, yes.  But our ability to engage in self care can depend, to an extent, on having support from the people in our lives.

Who are the people in your life who already support you in your self care efforts?**  Are they family, friends, or co-workers?  Self care support can look many different ways:
  • A friend who will come to a doctor's appointment with you
  • A roommate who will take the dog for a walk so that you can get a much-needed nap
  • A family member who will remind you to take your pills each day
  • A partner who will encourage you to get to the gym because you always feel better after you go
Who are the people who you could use more support from?  What types of support can they provide, and how can you ask them for it?

For most of us, different types of support come from different places.  What are yours?  Share if you'd like!

**At some times it can feel like there is no one around to support us.  There's still one person left who always has your back: you.  Also, if you're open to it, there is almost always someone there waiting in the wings.

Friday, February 16, 2018

40 Days of Self Care, Day 3
What isn't going so well?

Yesterday we talked about all the ways in which you are absolutely killing this self care thing.  Today we're gonna talk about the flip side.  What aspects of your self care do you want to improve on?  Do you need to:
  • Ask for help when you need it?
  • Rest more?
  • Prioritize your needs over others' wants more consistently?
  • Dial back the negative self talk?
Again, I'll ask for three things, three areas where you can improve your self care.**  Just three of the behaviors you are not engaging in right now that would be most impactful and beneficial if you were able to get them going.  Please share them if you feel comfortable doing so.

*This list might feel overwhelming.  It may seem as though you're not doing anything well.  Look back on yesterday's exercise - what did you come up with?