Motivational Monday: Comfort Zones

This post is more for me than you, fair readers. Feel free to jump on the bandwagon. The more the merrier, eh?

As I discussed in my post on Saturday, I’m having an internal argument with myself over possibly switching my workout routine to the early morning rather than after work. I shot off an email to the old CrossFit-esque camp I used to participate in. They’ve since expanded their locations, including one that’s only a slight detour from my way to work. They’ll call me sometime during the week to schedule my free session. I felt pretty good about it until Sunday morning. Then Hailey kicked in again.

“Pfft, why did you even bother? It’s not like you’re going to keep it up,”

“I thought we had this talk about you being late to work? Did you even listen?”

“It’s too expensive. You don’t have that kind of money,”

The same litany came out for trying an early morning yoga class. That’s all it is. Trying. I don’t have to commit to anything. It’s just an experiment. It will allow me to see exactly what impact it would have on my commute. Then I can make an informed decision. I’ll give myself two separate chances, one with yoga and the other with camp. If it doesn’t work out or I get to work too late for my comfort (at my desk no later than 8a after all the requisite cleaning up has been completed), I can stop. It’s not like the minute I get there, I’ll be forced to sign a year long contract with a cancellation fee that involves my left kidney. There’s absolutely no harm in trying. Getting up at 515a to be at a 6a class might hurt a little the first time, but again, it’s not permanent unless I decide it’s worth it. I have a very hard time believing either of them would be insulted if I said “I have to think about it”. I know the camp won’t because I’ve dealt with them before. Hard sell isn’t their style.

The same thing goes through my head regarding the technical dance studio. I have 2 classes just hanging out there, waiting to be used. I always chicken out at the last minute. Again, I’m not making any kind of serious commitment. There’s a reason their business model is a drop in system. I have a year to use the classes I buy. I just need to inch a little more in that direction. I allow myself to be intimidated. I bully myself so hard that, again, I feel crappy & stuck. What’s the worst that will happen? They won’t kick me out of class. I’m a paying customer. The other dancers won’t point and laugh. Odds are, they aren’t even paying attention to me. I’m not a disruptive student. I pretty much keep to myself in class, even at the recreational studio where I know faces even if I don’t know names. The only real challenge is judging what their definition of “beginner” or “intermediate” is. Even then, I can go to a beginner level class & if it’s too easy, then go up a level.

I don’t tolerate other people bullying me or someone I care about. It’s a lot harder to stop bullying myself. At least if I try, I’ve knocked the bully down a peg.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Give it a try

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Depression

My depression existed long before my abuse.

When I was 12, we moved from a (relatively) small town in Virginia to Atlanta. The Internet was still a novelty in those days (“Get off the phone! I need to use the Internet!”). My main method of communication with my friends were letters and phone calls. These were also the days of land lines where calling outside your area code came with a higher charge. Thus, my phone calls were limited to 30 minutes or less. I had a hard time making friends in my new school because almost all of the other kids had been classmates since kindergarten or first grade. The only people I really made friends with were the other 2 new girls. To say I had a hard time adjusting would be an understatement. I got better when the Internet & instant messaging became a thing. I had an unrestricted way to communicate.

I wrote a lot of poetry during those 2 years. I know most people make fun of poetry, but to my 7th grade self, it made the most sense. It was a way to get all my feelings out in a form I could relate to. I kept the book & reread it after I graduated high school. I wrote some very dark things. There was no danger of me killing myself, but my heart broke for that girl who had no idea what to do. She did the best she could with a lot of feelings that she didn’t fully understand. Then came the abuse & depression reared its scraggly blonde head once again. I told you that story to tell you this one…

I wanted to share a tool my therapist gave me to keep depression at bay. It’s not a solution by any means. Always, always listen to your health care provider (mental and / or physical) first. It’s just a trick that can help when you’re feeling particularly challenged. It’s called CESS. It stands for Creative, Exercise, Self Care, & Spiritual. Ideally, you hit all 4 on any given day. Realistically, it’s 3. I recently reimplemented this in my life & I noticed a shift. I keep a journal & at the end of the day, I write down each point. Some things even overlap. If I go to dance, that covers both Exercise & Creative. Depending on the style or the tone of the class, it can even cover Spiritual. Reading a book covers Creative because your brain has something else to chew on. You may choose to practice an instrument, paint, or write.

Self care & Spirituality are easily the most personal & sometimes the hardest to incorporate. Personally, I take self care very literally. Taking a shower, brushing my teeth, putting on make up, or using nice smelling lotion all cover that point for me. Self care for you could be taking a night off, watching TV, & focusing on yourself rather than someone else. It could overlap with exercise by taking a yoga class, for example. Spirituality is where I tread very lightly. For me, meditation right before I go to bed satisfies my spirituality. I was raised Catholic, but I don’t relate to it at all any more. I spent the weekend with my dad’s family who take their faith very seriously. My dad himself takes his faith very seriously, especially given how hard this year has been for him. Whatever allows you to feel a connection with the greater world, universe, or what have you, is exactly what you need to do.

CESS is the root of “cease” or “cessation” which means “to end” or “to stop”. It won’t stop depression in its tracks, but it can slow it down long enough to allow you to get back on your feet.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Cease & desist

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Acceptance

The anniversary of the day I met Will passed this week. I didn’t even notice. October 2, 2004. It’s been a decade. When I realized it last night, I was flooded with a mix of memories and emotions. He was my first and I was his first. After, I was in the bathroom trying to figure out a way to stop the bleeding. Our first Valentine’s Day, he bought me flowers. It was windy, so he walked backwards from the train station to my dorm so the flowers wouldn’t be damaged. He took me to Mardi Gras. His parents’ house was literally half a block off the parade route. His sister hated me. His mom hated me. His dad loved me. His ex-girlfriend and I bonded over having the exact same birthday. His phone number is seared into my brain. If he ever called me again, I would know it was him. I remember his birthday. I don’t remember when we broke up. For all intents and purposes, the relationship ended after graduation when he moved back to New Orleans and I stayed here.

In the past decade, I’ve seen him once. He called me out of the blue in the summer of 2010. He said he would be in town & asked to have lunch together. I agreed. It was a really, really bad decision. He rattled off everything he was doing. His new girlfriend was in town training for Teach for America. He’d bought a car. He’d bought a condo. The car was particularly significant because he had been deemed uninsurable after being in 3 accidents in as many months. Apparently the state of Louisiana changed its mind and he was once again able to legally drive. During our relationship, I was responsible for all the transportation needs. Overall, it was a strange experience. We parted ways and that night I, of course, crawled into a bottle of vodka and stayed there. I drunk dialed him, left him a rambling message, & saw the next morning that he’d called me back. I was absolutely mortified. Two months later I met Boy. Three months later I made my first attempt at drying out. I haven’t heard from him again, in person or virtually. Sometimes I wonder what happened to him. If my phone were to ring right this second and it was him, would I pick up the phone? My stomach drops at the thought. I think that’s a pretty good sign that I should let it ring to voicemail.

The fact that the date passed without me noticing is significant in its own right. My uncanny ability to remember dates, times, places, and people along with their significance can be a blessing and a curse. This year, October 2 was spent calling in sick to work & cat napping all day. That’s the only reason it stood out. No anxiety. No pain. Nothing to otherwise distinguish it from any other Thursday. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that swatting at the past like you’re trying to get a bug out of your face does no good. I was reminded that he wasn’t all bad. He wasn’t abusive 24/7. That by no means absolves what he did. A reminder of our own humanity and the humanity of others is important. Yesterday I did what amounted to narrowing down what’s important to me right now. The results were a bit eye opening. My main focus is to self improvement and improving my relationships with those closest to me. I hadn’t really given it much thought recently other than in passing. That requires accepting our flaws, strengths, and quirks as part of a whole package. It’s never easy and sometimes far easier to ignore, but it’s worth it in the end.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Be human

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Praying

This article really spoke to me.

When people hear the word “prayer”, the knee jerk reaction is the rote poems written in their respective organized doctrines. Boy was raised Jewish. I was raised Catholic. If you were raised in any kind of organized religion, I’m sure you can recite the most common prayers without thinking twice about it. I think that’s why people find the word “pray” so offputting. The words of a pre-fab prayer don’t ring true. They aren’t capturing the emotion or the idea behind laying it all on the table in the face of a world in which we are specks.

When my dad almost died, I found myself praying frequently. By praying, I mean lying on the bed, sobbing my eyes out, begging the greater world to let me do something. I heard nothing back. I squeezed every bit of feeling out of myself in those moments. It did more for me than any number of Our Fathers, Hail Marys, or Prayers to St. Francis could ever do. Ironically, those are also doled out as punishment when you go to confession. That’s why, at least in my head, they don’t do anything. How can something that’s supposed to make you connect more with a greater power also be used as a weapon?

I don’t believe in a god or goddess. I don’t believe in a literal heaven or hell. Yet, I still pray. I still have something I need to communicate in the face of helplessness and fear. That’s also where AA failed. For all their huffing about praying to a higher power of your choice, they were referring to the traditional God of Christianity. They said all the prewritten prayers and went through the same motions that happened in a church service. It didn’t fit. Just like in school, I was expected to pray at certain times of the day, confess my sins, and be duly punished for them with the promise to go and sin no more. Not helpful. If anything, it made me far more likely to fight the system. When Emily & I would go to meetings together, we’d sit in the car for the first few minutes because we didn’t want to sit through the whole opening prayer bit. Quite the rebels, we were.

At one point or another, we’ve all yelled at the sky asking why something didn’t work out or we couldn’t do anything more to change a situation. We’ve prayed. When someone dies and we say “My thoughts are with your family” or “I’m sending you good vibes”, we’re praying for them. I see plenty of my friends on Facebook asking for prayers without even realizing it. They may even think they’re going out of their way to not ask for others to pray by suggesting “good vibes” or “positive thoughts”. I also know a lot of them would insist that’s not what they’re asking for at all. Regardless, we all have our way and call it by its own name. Ramen 😉

XOXO!

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Say a little prayer

Motivational Monday: Family

I got the idea for this post in my travels over the past month.

I have one biological sibling, a sister, who is 4 years younger than I am. I have many more surrogate siblings, aunts, uncles, and even parents. Two weeks ago, I was visiting my best friend of 25 years for her daughter’s birthday. She considers me family and I consider her to be the same. I refer to her daughter as my niece even though we don’t (as far as I know) share a lick of DNA. It leads to a lot of confusion for those who don’t know know anything beyond the surface. I get a lot of “I didn’t know your sister had kids” or “Wait, is your sister even married?”. I visited both within the past 2 weeks. My sister up and moved to Minneapolis a little over 3 years ago. I’ve seen her in the flesh twice since then before this past weekend. We went to the Minnesota State Fair (I’ll be detoxing from fried food for days. Oy.), spent time with some of her co-workers, and took the culinary tour of her part of town. The older we get, the more similar we’ve become. We’ve passed the point where the age difference includes large developmental differences. There were several times we said the exact same thing at the exact same time to both our great amusements. I rarely get to see either of them in person and it was nice to get to see both in a short period.

Historically, the term “family” would include slaves or servants in the household in addition to parents, children, and any other blood relatives living in the house. Without getting into the politics of slavery or servitude, the term “family” serves as a relatively simple way to identify a household. It was also used to track inheritance of titles, lands, and other rights that may be conferred upon the death of a matriarch or patriarch. In my mind, families are fluid. You can create your own family in the traditional sense through getting married and / or having children. You can also put together a group of people you love and care for, regardless of origin. You can choose to leave out relatives you don’t get along with or flat out don’t like when describing your family. I know plenty of people, myself included, who leave out certain members of the family tree for any number of reasons. You can add members who aren’t immediate relatives.

Whoever they are, whatever their origins, take good care of your family. Don’t bother yourself with strange looks from others. Who you choose to call family is none of their business. That’s up to you and your family.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Blood doesn’t always run thicker than water 

Motivational Monday: Labels

Hello all!

I haven’t forgotten about you, I promise. I was out of town over the weekend for my niece’s 2nd birthday. There were cupcakes, laughs, and gel manicures to be had. My goal is to get my ass back up there before her 3rd birthday next summer. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve already seen the unintentionally hysterical selfie of her mom and myself. We’ve been friends our entire lives despite living in different states for more than half of our friendship. When we were very young, we labeled ourselves best friends.

We all remember the labels from school. Cheerleader. Nerd. Stoner. Overachiever. They were rarely self imposed. Other kids would make those judgments. My social group were the artsy kids. Band, dance, visual art, and the like were where our strengths laid. As I got older, I noticed a shift in labeling. People began applying the labels themselves, usually holdovers from what they were in school. 

The current label on my packaging? Flaky. And not in the fluffy biscuit way.

My negative voice has gone from criticizing my weight to criticizing my follow through. For example, I ended my membership at the dance studio because I wasn’t able to justify the cost. I wasn’t going to class as regularly as I thought I would be. I would tell myself “Okay, I’m going to class tonight for sure!” then not go. Before I knew it, it was the end of the month and I’d taken 2 or 3 classes out of the 10 I had available. Part of the beauty of the studio is the fact all classes are drop in classes. I can go to class once a month or three times a week as my schedule permits. I’m not tied to a series or a specific schedule. Instead of tracking my attendance habits, I committed to something that wasn’t sustainable. When I chose not to go to class or missed it for some reason, that nasty little voice kicked in. I was totally flaky. I couldn’t be trusted to show up for anything. If I can’t show up for something I claim to love, then what would I do in a situation when I didn’t want to be there? And I’ll be damned if that sucker hasn’t been loud as all hell in the past few weeks.

Part of what I love about my hobbies is I *can* walk away from them. I’ll go through phases where I’m doing something regularly and then completely drop it. It could be months, it could only be a week. It’s why I can’t do something I enjoy as a hobby for a job. I would burn myself out on it and end up hating it. Yet I’d still have to show up every day because it’s what’s paying my bills. That’s why I’m so good at what I do for a living. I’m not emotionally attached to my work. I show up, I do my work, and I get paid for it. It pays for my hobbies which I can take or leave. I’m not flaky because I ebb and flow with my hobby du jour.

If I didn’t show up regularly to my job with no solid reason, I’d be a flake. If I made plans with people then flat out didn’t show up, I’d be a flake. If I don’t show up to a drop in class, I’m not a flake. I had no obligation, financial or emotional, to be there. If I feel like, I’ll go. If I don’t, then I won’t. No animals were harmed during the making of this film. I have to keep reminding myself of that to keep the nasty little voice in check. Just like in school, labels can be damaging if you start to believe them. It’s even more potent if it’s coming from inside your own head.

Like any other negative self talk, keep using logic. Look at a situation objectively. Does that negative label really, truly apply? If it doesn’t, keep reminding yourself of why it doesn’t fit. If it does apply and you want to change, what’s a tiny way to work toward that goal? If I truly weren’t showing up when I was expected to show up with no good (or a completely fabricated) reason, then I’d need to do something about it. Instead of accepting an invitation I’m not really interested in, say no. Someone might get their feelings hurt up front, but it’s a much softer blow for both parties. Above all, tell people what you’re trying to change. Odds are they already know what needs to change. If they’re aware of your intentions, they can help. Brains are insanely powerful organs and will justify away pretty much anything. Another person won’t be so quick to let it slide. Pick someone who you know will call you out on your bullshit. Ideally, it’s someone who knows you well enough to know whether you need a good slap upside the head or a more gentle approach. Better yet, pick several people who are willing to help. I’m not a huge fan of teams, but in cases like these, they’re appropriate. In some of my worst and most painful moments, I’ve had more than one person behind me. That, fair readers, made all the difference.

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Check your label.

XOXO!

Motivational Monday: Money Honey

Piggy backing off last week’s post about knowing your price, this week is about relationships with money.

I don’t know about y’all, but I have a very, very abusive relationship with money. I’ve been evaluating my budget recently, especially after dropping $1000 on my car and $550 on a plane ticket. Both were paid out of my savings account. That’s exactly what the savings account is for. It’s for unexpected expenses like twiddling my thumbs on getting a ticket to Virginia for my niece’s birthday or replacing my brakes so I don’t, you know, end up in a car accident. Yet I’m still beating myself up over it.

I should have planned better.

I should have been able to pay it out of my checking account. 

I need to stop buying frivolous things like nail polish and clothes or eating out all the time.

And the list goes on. Like most beliefs and tenets, they’re formed when you’re very young. My mom in particular complains about the cost of things or comments frequently how the family has “no money”. Mind you, I grew up in the suburbs, went to private school my entire life (that includes college), and my sister and I never wanted for anything. That does make one raise an eyebrow. I only really got a concept of what things cost when I started working. By that point, the beliefs were ingrained in me. I’m certainly not inches away from poverty. Even if I didn’t live with Boy, I could very easily pay rent and all my other bills. However, I also don’t know anyone who would turn down more money.

Just like abstinence only sex education doesn’t work, neither does abstinence only budgeting. I may beat myself up over “frivolous” spending, but I’d be a hell of a lot more miserable if I stuck to paying the bills, putting most of what’s left in savings, and not allowing for many fun purchases at all. Boy, on the other hand, is a stereotypical Jew. We may not understand the other one’s financial philosophy, but it doesn’t make one better than the other. It just means he pays for dinner more than I do. 😛

Just like with any other negative self talk, I have to remind myself it’s a bunch of bullshit. I’m a perfectionist to a fault (just read the personality test). I have to have a perfect body, walk out of the house impeccably dressed and coiffed, drink green smoothies twice a day, and manage my money so it’s perfectly balanced. No one is ever going to be that perfect. It’s not possible. Sometimes, a girl just needs a new purse, though not at the expense of the rent. N’est pas?

Motivational Tidbit Takeaway: Money may make the world go ’round, but you get to decide which direction it spins.