I have been dreaming, dreaming a golden dream

After dreaming and wishing and praying, I’ve decided to go for it and try to raise money to help me get certified at Island Yoga in Aruba. It’s been my dream for 10 years to get certified so I can help people heal through yoga the way Yoga has helped me. Yoga helped me save my life and I want to dedicate my career to helping others. I finally found a studio with the beliefs and ideals that resonate with me, but it’s on Aruba and will cost some money to get there and pay for certification and lodging during the training. I’ve considered going to a local certification that costs less, but I keep coming back to this studio and feel strongly that this is where I need to be taught in order to be the best teacher I can be.

Anything helps! I would be so thankful if you would share this!

Campaign link

gofundme.com/for-my-dream-yoga-certification

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The best things in life, and fear

Let’s explore an idea for a moment: what would life look like if we didn’t give in to fear?

I know a little fear is healthy because it helps keep us alive, but my life would look wildly different if I weren’t so controlled by fear.

There are so many instances in my life where I could have taken a leap in a certain direction but didn’t, and more often than not, it was due to one of the most incorporeal elements we come to know in this existence. Fear is a product of our imagination that wields a lot of power over our lives if we allow it to. If I pause to ruminate on how many instances in my life to be affected by fear, the number is staggering.

The most crazy thing about it is that I can reason with myself that it’s silly to let the trepidation that the mere possibility of something unfavorable may happen control situations in my life, but in practice more outcomes of my life have been controlled by fear than I care to admit.

I can tell myself everything under the sun about how it makes no sense to be afraid today; after all, I could be gone tomorrow, but the part of my brain that worries about safety doesn’t give a damn.

A friend and I have been talking about fear a great deal lately, and we both trace the amount of fear back to our traumatic childhoods and the need for control that was a product of our upbringing. It’s funny, because I know I can’t control anything except how I react to what I’m presented with, and yet there lingers this intense need to try and control a situation.

I stumbled on a video of Will Smith talking about his experience with skydiving the other day and it stopped me in my tracks. It spoke to me in a deep way because I am absolutely terrified of heights and yet, skydiving was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve had in my entire life. He brings up a very profound point about that moment when you’re about to step out of the airplane, he said “you fall out of the aeroplane, and in one second you realize that it is the most blissful experience of your life; you’re flying! There is zero fear! You realize that the point of maximum danger, is the point of minimum fear. It’s bliss!”

He goes on to say “The lesson for me was, why were you scared in your bed the night before? Why were you scared in the car? Why could you not enjoy breakfast? Everything up to the actual stepping out, there is no reason to be scared. It only ruins your day. And then in that moment, when you should be terrified, it is the most blissful experience of your life.”

The next thing he said really drove the point home for me:

“God placed the best things in life on the other side of terror.”

I’ve learned a few important things this week. The first thing I’ve learned is that I will never get where I want to go in life if I let fear dictate to me what acceptable risk is. I will stay in my comfort zone until the day that I die, and in my last few minutes or seconds or whatever it may be, I do not want my thoughts to be “I could have been great, I could have done so many wonderful things, but I was afraid”.

The second thing I learned is that I will never ever achieve my goal of being free until I shake the grip fear has on me, because fear is a chain. Fear locks you to its side and says “you will not move from this spot until I say” if you allow it to control you in such a way, and I, for one, am completely fucking fed up with it.

The only way to follow through and change my circumstances is to decide: am I free, or am I fearful, as each opportunity presents itself to me. I will need to make the conscious decision over and over that staying where I’ve been is far more agonizing than the possibility that something less than favorable may present itself to me, and even then, taking the “safe” road led by fear may very well provide less that favorable circumstances anyway, so which road do I want to take from here? I can’t be content in staying in the safe lane, because shit happens there too. Might as well have an adventure or two.

Some days are just like that, and that’s okay.

I’ve had anxiety the past four days in ways I haven’t experienced for a long time.

It’s been one of those spells that carry with it the nagging feeling that something is very, very wrong; the ones that make you want to curl up in bed until it’s over, but drive you crazy and more restless by the minute until finally you get up, walking around in a daze because 95% of your brain capacity devotes itself to solving whatever’s bothering you so badly. Going through your mental checklist of things it could be, texting your loved ones to make sure they’re all alive, while praying to god they don’t call you, because you don’t have it in you to talk to them today; you’re too exhausted from trying to appear like a normal person rather than a tangled ball of vibrating anxiety.

It’s so easy to talk about embracing anxiety and seeing what it has to tell you when things are going great, but when I can’t figure it out and solve it so all I get to do is sit with it because I can’t figure out what it has to say? Well that, as the Wizard of Oz would say, “is a horse of a different color” my friends.

Anxiety can be really f*ing icky. I’m sorry if I’ve seemed blasé about it up to this point. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s hard to remember just how bad it gets until it hits you so hard one day that suddenly you’re back in the familiar routine of taking showers to avoid anxiety attacks (that really works for me sometimes by the way), and just trying to remember to make sure you’re breathing.

I get in these fits of anxiety where normal processes just shut down. Anything that takes effort becomes nearly impossible, and the piles of laundry that build and the dishes that sit one day and then another silently scream at me that I’m doing a terrible job with this life thing.

Or maybe it’s my brain that’s telling me that, but either way, I start spiraling, quickly. Suddenly everything is a Big Fucking Deal.

Even the idea of getting on my yoga mat, the one thing guaranteed to make me feel at least a little bit better, feels impossible on days and weeks like this.

Now that I’m feeling a little better I’m a little more reasonable. No one died from lack of clean clothes or dishes, praise be.

Now, I can start to look into it and say, “oh, looks like there’s a shit storm brewing astrologically, and even the moon and stars are literally saying ‘hey, stuffs goin down. Are you ready?’ (No, I’m sure as hell not, but I’m taking deep breaths and telling myself I can do it) and oh yeah, I started my cycle this week so that accounts for some weirdness” and continue down the line and figure out what caused me to be a complete basket case, but it doesn’t change the fact that it messed with me for a couple days and that during those days it felt like the end of everything as I know it.

This isn’t a post with a big intent, or to provide some wonderful information. This is me just saying, for those who go through weeks that feel like a year, and maybe had an icky week too: “I feel you. I see you, and it’s okay. We’re gonna survive this. ”

Some days, weeks, months, years are just like this, but at least we’re not alone in feeling like this. Even though it feels like we are, there are more of us out there experiencing this feeling and we get what it is to feel this way.

We’re going through a major shift as a planet. I don’t think it’s really deniable any longer, we are on the cusp major changes to how this world operates. I think there are those who are just more sensitive to what’s going on, and it does no good to be angry or disappointed in ourselves for feeling what other people aren’t feeling, even if we don’t know exactly what it is, or can’t put a name to it. I think we probably came here to try and help with the shift. I see it as no coincidence that those who have anxiety or depression also tend to be empaths: we feel a lot more than some people do.

I’m re-committing to being gentle with myself and recognizing that there are forces at work that I maybe don’t fully understand but that I know I can sense, and it might throw me off and put me all out of wack but it doesn’t mean I’m broken. Relating to or interacting with the world differently than other people does not mean I’m broken, even if I can’t be a fully functioning human some days. I don’t know that I was ever meant to. *shrugs*

As me and my good friend love to say: Go with the flow. The flow knows.”

Changing our relationship with anxiety (pt.1)

I’ve been reflecting on my relationship with anxiety and how it’s changed over the last four years. I had a really rough go of it from the time I was 11 until about 24, and it’s interesting to look back at my journey and compare it to where I am now (which is a story I’m considering sharing, but it’s definitely a post for a different day).

Without getting into the nitty gritty of the struggle I went through to find these techniques, here’s what I, personally, have found to be most helpful in combatting anxiety. Some of these ideas might make you uncomfortable, and I encourage you to entertain those ideas, because in all my studying the ideas that made me uncomfortable or stretched the boundary of the reality I had created were the ideas that helped me the most! What made me so uncomfortable was how foreign they were to my way of thinking, and yet they yielded the most beneficial change. With whatever I share here on this blog, entertain the possibilities, but take what speaks to you and leave the rest. 🙂 Everyone’s story is different and what works for one might not work for the other. I’m sharing in the off-chance it will speak to someone. I’ll share some short-term fixes that provide relief when I’m feeling overly anxious as well as some philosophies about anxiety that may help you the most in the long run.

As for short-term relief, If you aren’t in an environment where you need to be awake and alert, drinking chamomile tea has proven to be one of the quickest ways to help lessen anxiety. There’s a loose leaf mix that works the best for me that contains chamomile, lavender, and lemongrass (update: just got home and checked, the company is dewdrop herbal tea co. and brand is called “The Favorite”) It tastes delicious and I’ve found it to be quite soothing. I drink it when I’ve had a stressful day at work, or on those days when I wake up with anxiety and just can’t kick it no matter what I try, and it helps me wind down tremendously so I can go to sleep .

Chamomile tea contains apigenin (source: http://www.sciencedirect.com), which seems to have a sedative effect similar to the effect some Rx anxiety medication does, except it doesn’t make your anxiety worse when it wears off like I’ve experienced in medication like Xanax. I honestly think just the ritual of preparing tea and drinking it has become associated in my brain with chilling out so now even the act of making tea is soothing so that helps too.

Yoga and meditation is one of the most effective tools I’ve found for relaxation. The great thing about yoga is that when we practice we focus on our breathing; concentrating on breathing deep through the nose (expanding the belly and the chest) and breathing out through the nose. Even just practicing this when you can’t “bust a move” (like Young MC? Anyone?) for example, when you’re driving, can go a long way toward relieving anxiety. Often when we are feeling anxious we begin taking shallow breaths or hold our breath without noticing and understandably, our brain goes “Wtf. Why aren’t we breathing? We need some oxygen please!” and we get even more anxious as a result. So one of the first things I check when I’m feeling anxious is to see how my breathing is. A lot of times, taking a few deep breaths goes a long way toward me feeling a little less panicky.

If you want to try yoga but aren’t sure where to start, feel free to leave a comment about that and I’ll see about putting together a yoga sequence that helps and posting it, or see about posting a video how-to on my tumblr page.

Yoga practice is much more than just breathing or moving, and that, too, is a post for another day.

Another thing I try to check is how I’ve taken care of myself for the day, as in, how much sleep have I had? When was the last time I drank some water? When did I last feed myself something nutritious? Have I had caffeine today? (Coffee, I learned, is NOT for me. I’m way too sensitive to that much caffeine and it does more harm than good). Did I drink alcohol recently? Honestly, sometimes when I’m feeling anxious I realize I haven’t had any water that day, or all I’ve eaten is crap, and by checking in with myself the way I would a friend, I’ve tuned in enough to see that I need to do something to remedy that, and when the symptoms of anxiety dissipate. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a hundred times most likely, but anxiety is not your enemy. I know, it sounds all wrong, because sometimes it genuinely feels like anxiety is out to kill you, but it’s really not. Anxiety is your body, mind, or spirits way of saying, “hey. I love you, but something isn’t right here, and I need your help to fix it, because it’s making me feel terrible and I can’t do it on my own.” Anxiety is trying to tell you something, more often than not. Try to tune in and see what it’s trying to tell you, and if you can’t determine what it is right away, go by process of elimination.

I like to go from the silliest option to the most logical (in an unpatronizing way) because it helps me calm myself down a little and not take it so serious, for example: “is a bear or axe murderer chasing me down right now? No?” *checks it off my mental check list* “did a cop just pull me over? Negative” *another check* “am I standing in front of my old classmates naked/only in granny panties” no, brain, and again, that was just a dream. *checks it off the list*, and so on until I feel ready to address the deeper that might be the actual cause of it, because for me at least, sometimes I’m too keyed up and I just don’t want to face it. The problem is, when you ignore and bury whatever your anxiety is trying to show you, it just keeps coming back. We’ll talk in the next post about going toe to toe with your anxiety and staring it dead in the face.

Some more things that ease my anxiety naturally:

Walks in nature, (walks with your pup are a bonus, they get so happy you can’t help but be happy and in the moment with them). Walks are super important for me because I sit at a stressful desk job all day and it overstimulates me and I don’t get to release that negative energy all day so I gotta do it in the form of a walk after work. If you’re holding onto stuff from work when you leave, go on a walk and let it go, man, we already devote way too much of our lives to that shit. Go live a little!

Taking your shoes off and standing in the grass, or just taking your shoes off and letting your feet breathe while you breathe. This is called “grounding” or “earthing” , where you re-connect with the earth and realize everything is small compared to the miracle that you’re on this amazing earth orbiting a sun and you’re alive for another day, even if you’re anxious. Earthy folks like me will tell you how beneficial it is to your well-being. Be sure to wiggle your toes and stretch your feet, they’ve been in those damn shoes all day and they deserve it.

Get moving. I’ve picked up the habit of getting up every half hour to hour at work to do lunges, push ups, jumping jacks, etc to get your stuck energy moving and flowing. Especially important if you sit at a high stress job all day because, let’s face it, we weren’t meant to sit all day and it’s wreaking havoc on us and we freakin deserve to get up and move, damnit. I like to go home after a long, stressful, crappy day and dance it out, Meredith Grey style.

I’m considering this a part 1 because it’s already way longer than I meant for it to be. I’m sorry! I hope it doesn’t give you anxiety, like it would probably give me to see all this stuff to read. Just take it in chunks if it does.

Goal for now: try to implement a new technique for dealing with anxiety. Maybe try to reorient yourself around anxiety to begin to see it as a vehicle or tool for discovery. I promise anxiety is not “bad”. It feels like it’s out to get you, but it’s not. It’s there to tell you something.

All this being said, I strongly believe we are all exactly where we should be in our journey at any given moment. As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect the dots looking backward.So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life”

Don’t try to force yourself to be anywhere but where you are. If you want to work toward being somewhere different, then as my favorite author Pema Chodron says, “Start Where You Are”. You’re doing terrific. Truly, you are. Life gets rough and I’m so proud of you for hanging on another day.

Give yourself credit for anything you did today, even if it was opening your eyes and “nope”ing yourself straight back to bed. I’m glad you recognized what you needed today, whatever that may be. Tomorrow, maybe we try something different. Either way, as Bob Marley would say, “don’t worry, about a thing, cause every little thing, is gonna be alright” p.s. this is my dog Maggie, I took this picture yesterday after she figured out how to climb on this fallen tree. She was so proud. This is her telling us “we can do hard things!” 😉

Sending lots of love and good vibes your way. You’re important, you matter, and I believe in you. So does Maggie!

Mindfulness and happiness go hand in hand

I’ve had a tendency in the last year or so to dread my weekends.

That sounds a little bizarre, I know. Somewhere along the way I stopped treating the weekend as a gift and started viewing it like “oh great, another two days to try and do all the things I need to catch up on”. The problem was that re-charging and filling my cup was not one of my priorities. Self care wasn’t even on my to do list- at least not without a nice dose of guilt-because surely, there must be something more important I could be doing with my time.

Unbeknownst to me, by abandoning self care I was creating an ornery, anxious, stressed little monster out of myself; someone always caught up in “otherland”, a dismal place that is never “here” but always “out there” somewhere, focusing on anything but where I was at that moment.

When I had this realization today of these negative patterns I’ve set for myself, I took a detour. I looked around at all the housework needing to be done and decided it could wait. Today, I was more important. I did things differently than I normally do: I showered before doing any housework, I put on a dress, put on some makeup, and took myself out to the coffee shop to enjoy a chai tea and scone while taking time to soak up the sun and write. While I sat, I made a concentrated effort to practice being present. I paid attention to how the sun felt on my skin, how my tea tasted, and how nice it felt to take time to just be, without any guilt or agenda.

It was refreshing, and I found that the more I focused on fulfilling my guilt-free self charging, I was deliciously happy.

As I sat, I began calling up all the things I was thankful for, the first and foremost being alive another day to experience life. There are so many things I have been blessed with that I sometimes take it all for granted; getting so caught up in the stories I’ve created for myself that I forget to stay present in my day-to-day life. In doing so, I miss out on noticing many of the little marvels that take place in my life on a day to day basis.

The quickest path to happiness, (as I’ve rediscovered over and over), is staying present and being thankful. The little things transform into big things in the best way, if we allow them to.

This is not to say we don’t have hard or difficult days, or weeks or months. I’ve had periods of intense grief, depression, and anxiety, and I know that sometimes life can be a real struggle. When you have those times, surround yourself with your loved ones, so they can lift you when it’s too difficult to lift yourself, and wait for the easy happiness to come back around. I’ve come to know in the last five or six years is that life is a cycle of good and hard, joy and sadness. What I’m trying to say with this post is best summed up in this quote I have on my fridge:

“My uncle Alex Vonnegut, […] taught me something very important.

He said that when things were really going well we should be sure to NOTICE it. He was talking about simple occasions, not great victories: maybe drinking lemonade on a hot afternoon in the shade, or smelling the aroma of a nearby bakery; or fishing, and not caring if we catch anything or not, or hearing somebody all alone playing a piano really well in the house next door.

Uncle Alex urged me to say this out loud during such epiphanies: ‘If this isn’t nice, what is?'”

-Kurt Vonnegut

All this to say: take guilt-free time for you. Refill your cup. And above all, stay present, so when those little moments of happiness creep up on you, you are paying close enough attention to take notice of them.

 

 

“Won’t you be my neighbor?”

With everything going on, I’ve had an increasing urge to write while simultaneously feeling overwhelmed by where to start. There’s been so much new and incredible information I’ve discovered even in the last year and my fingers have been yearning to say it all in one go. On the flip side, it’s an incredibly vulnerable position to put yourself in; expressing your thoughts in visible form with the hope it might resonate with someone, somewhere.

I mean for this blog to be a source of peace, understanding, and love for anyone who chances across it. I believe love and peace to be something we could use more of at this pivotal time in society.

I wish to make it known that love is the most transformational energy in the universe. If we all let go of the fear that has caused us to build walls around our heart and opened up to loving ourselves and others we would find ourselves in a place wholly unrecognizable from that which we now occupy. There are dark forces at work that wish to keep our energy at the lowest possible point, and they wish above all to keep from us one big secret: if we could drop the story being shoved in front of eyes and poured into our ears that we are not good enough, that we are not worthy of love, we would be more open to receiving the truth that we are unconditionally loved, (whether we realize it or not), and there would be a major shift in energy across the globe.

Recently I stumbled upon a memory that has been repressed for almost two decades. It is the memory of a man who loved everyone so much that he made a tv show with the specific intent to let us know just how important and loved we are. Many of you now reading this already know who I refer to: the man who loved to let us know, “I like you, just the way you are”.

The re-discovery of our wonderful friend and neighbor, Mr. Rogers, led me down a familiar old path of loving peacefulness. He was truly a great man, and I believe without a doubt in my mind that he was heaven sent. It saddens me to know that there are generations who are growing up without ever knowing his great and gentle influence. It is my hope that I may be able to bring his kind of loving energy to this blog over the days and weeks to come, and that the words I share here will stir to life the feelings of joy and light in our hearts that this great man helped so many to feel.

In such a frightening period of our history, may we all be the “helpers” our neighbor Mr. Rogers referred to when he said: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Yes, indeed. May we be each other’s helper. May we love ourselves and those around us. It’s what we’re here to do. May we halt the train of speedy deterioration we are now experiencing as a society before it’s too late.

Won’t you be my neighbor?