Where Am I?

Well, let me first say that I was obviously not successful in finishing out my trip journal! Fail! Here’s the very shortened version.

Day 26 – Lake Plitvice, Croatia. WOW stunning
Day 27-29 Zadar, Croatia. YES we were in Croatia for the World Cup Final! However, we were unable to stay. That is one of the many occurrences that made our Croatia trip a little underwhelming. It was purely coincidental and poor planning – Croatia is amazing!
Day 30-34 Budapest. Those days just flew by!

So, at this point we’ve been home exactly two weeks. It feels unreal to be back, but the whole trip seems a bit unreal as well, like it took place in an alternate universe or something. I’ve had the usual post-trip lows, combined with getting too stressed about socializing with friends and family, trying to squeeze in my own favorite summer Austin activities, before getting back to the grind of the school year. *Sigh*

Since getting back we spent: one day at home, one day at a family reunion, and then about five days at home before heading to South Padre Island for a friend’s birthday.

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It was lovely, but we were SO happy to be back in our beautiful home on Tuesday. What’s really cool, is that we were able to Airbnb our place during our short trip to the coast – we are really starting to enjoy this whole Airbnb-ing thing. We already a group booked for Labor Day when we’re headed out of town again!

This summer has been one amazing experience after another. I am so grateful. However, there’s always room for emotional baggage to sneak in. 😉

#1: Family. I had big plans to confront my family with some big topics before I left. I had so many reasons to go for it. I wrote a poem that I think really sums up how I felt about laying it all out there. But, when the time came.. I just couldn’t. At first I was incredibly disappointed, but I’ve since learned that it just wasn’t my right time, and that’s okay. However, since there was this big build-up that ended up leading to nothing, I feel a little confused and uncomfortable about when I stand with all of them. I’m working on figuring that out.

#2: Friends/Relationships. One of my friends – let’s call her Mary – went through a really bad break-up this past Spring. I’ve chosen to adjust my life quite a bit to be there for her, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, with that comes the added challenge of maintaining boundaries, which is something I think we all struggle with, especially when we’re really worried about someone we love and care for immensely.

So, during my first week back, I just felt like I HAD to see Mary as much as possible, who had missed me so much while I was gone, AND everyone else. I was extremely stressed and overwhelmed, and didn’t really want to see anyone. I felt like I was letting everyone down by not being social enough. Not wanting to see anyone is pretty typical for me post-trip, but it was worse this time because I felt more obligation.

It took some time and a therapy session to figure out what was going on. You see, with my family,

a lot of my process has been setting boundaries with my mom… and then my dad (unexpectedly) and now, even more unexpectedly, my brother

When this happened with him, I just felt a lot of anger, disappointment and helplessness… as most importantly, responsibility, because I was so worried about him. All of these feelings transferred to Mary, and then onto all of my other friends. I was only allowing myself to see the “burdens” of friendship, not all of the joy I’ve cultivated over the last few years as I’ve build up my friend group and re-learned how to trust friends.

Furthermore, I allowed myself to believe that these burdens were real. I’ve now realized they aren’t. Loyalty, “being there,” helping others, sure it’s all really good, but it’s not a REQUIREMENT of friendship. My therapist asked me two really great questions: What do you think it means to be a great friend? I responded with some variation of the list above. Then she asked, “What do you think your friends would tell you that you need to do in order to be a great friend?” I laughed out loud because I knew right away – they love me just as I am, and they would 100% say, “Just be you, silly!”

Once I realized this, I was able to drop my expectations for myself as a friend a little more easily, which was really good because I still had to make it through the beach trip with five friends. 😉 Sidenote: It is so wonderful to have authentic relationships. I felt so isolated just a few years ago.

#3 My weight: I lot of my thoughts about it can be summed up here. Even though it was almost two months ago that I realized I’ve gained so much weight, I’m only now starting on my weight-loss and overall health reset. I suppose that’s not entirely true – I started doing Yoga With Adriene very regularly while on the trip. I highly recommend Yoga With Adriene because it is just so easy to do it everyday. It’s free, it’s usually only about 20 minutes, and she focuses on self-love and being our true selves, something I know I need to be reminded up everyday.

Anyway, we got back from the beach on August 1, so I started my Whole30 on August 1. I will do this Whole30, reintroduce the foods the right way, and stay on track until I reach my target weight and lifestyle. 🙂 I know I can do this. I know I am capable of change, but that doesn’t mean I don’t spend a lot of my time feeling really down about my body and the journey ahead of me.

Thankfully, I had a really big “aha moment” while doing yoga in Budapest. The AC wasn’t on, so I ended up taking off my shirt and doing yoga in my sports bra. This meant having to see more of my body. Shame instantly came over me… but then I heard my yoga teacher within say, “If you can’t love your body now, how can you expect yourself to treat it better and reach your goals?”

I love the skin I’m in.

Because I love my body, I will treat it well. I will live the healthy lifestyle I deserve.

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Mimosas in the AM, Fettuccine Alfredo in the PM

Wow, I am so happy we pushed through yesterday and got so much done. The main thing left to do is – pack! We’re getting super excited about our trip to Hungary, Slovakia, The Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia. We leave on Thursday! We were actually able to relax some today, and it was amazing.

I saw two of my best friends today. I was really glad to spend some time with them before leaving, and that it was on a day when I was less stressed, and better able to connect. Yay for mimosas in the morning with one, and homemade fettuccine alfredo in the evening with the other! Feelin’ spoiled. (I haven’t forgotten about my goal to lose 30 pounds by January 1, 2019. Working on figuring out how to indulge responsibly. I welcome any tips or reading material!)

Not much to write about today. Still thinking about the (possible) upcoming talk with my family. I’m dreading it, dreading even thinking about it, really.

Today was a three point day.

Closer to Being Ready

This goes for my upcoming trip, and the talk I need to have with my family before I go. Our place is almost ready for our Airbnb guests, which means we’ve (finally) made the whole place more comfortable, and we managed to declutter! Areas that have had random piles for months (or even years?) are finally open, and it feels so good. Everything seems to have a home which is amazing as well. We’ve been working really hard though, and are definitely exhausted. We only have a few more steps to go, the lengthiest of which is going to be to actually pack for our trip, AND pack up our personal belongings so our guests don’t feel too much like they’re sleeping in someone else’s room. 🙂

As for the family part… well, I got it all down on paper, and that’s something. I even told my dad and brother I want to meet with them on my brother’s next day off, so if I do have the guts to say all of this, there’s actually a set time to say it. Worst case scenario, we just have lunch instead.

Why am I so scared? I guess it has to do with acceptance. I want to know they’re going to agree with me, even before I say the things I need to say. I’m worried they won’t like what I have to say, and may become upset or argue, and I won’t be able to stand up for what I know to be true. Part of me is also really afraid they’re going to say, we’re sorry you feel that way, and I’ll be left to follow my word, which is that if that’s the case, I have to step away for a while.

I need to know that that’s a possibility before going into this conversation. I’ve worked really hard the last few years to build up a healthy life and supportive community outside of my family, and have come to accept that under most circumstances, no matter how scary, I really am going to be okay. That doesn’t mean the prospect of losing closeness with my family isn’t difficult to stomach.

I sort of forgot to keep track of my points last week, so since it’s Sunday, I’ll just start over today. 🙂 Today was a 2 point day.

The Ability to Change

I felt really negative about things yesterday. Finding out how much weight I’ve gained really brought me down. But I want to reiterate what I discovered towards the end of my post: It really is possible! If there’s one thing I’ve learned this decade, it’s that I am capable of change. I owe myself that tiny bit of trust it takes to know that I can overcome this obstacle too. And let’s face it, it’s WAY bigger than just looking good. I want to feel good, and know that I’m treating my body right.

I leave on Thursday for a fantastic trip with the boyfriend. We’re headed to Hungary, my home away from home where I spent 9+ months just after college. This is truly the place where I stood on my own two feet for the first time, expressed myself for the first time, grew to love and trust myself for the first time. I’ve been back one other time with my now ex-husband. It was different, but still amazing. I think this time will be the best yet. 🙂 (For more of my Hungarian experiences, read this, or this, or check out my very first baby blog!) We will also be venturing to Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Slovenia and Croatia – in that order. I can’t wait to share more! Things have been really busy preparing, as we decided to Airbnb our own place while we’re gone, and it wasn’t the slightest bit “guest ready.” Things have been moving along nicely though.

To switch to a completely unrelated topic: Family. We spend our childhood just going with the flow, because what else is there to do? And then we reach adulthood, and we’re blind-sided not only by our responsibilities and the awkwardness of it all, but also by all this shit we have to undo, this garbage we never knew was a big deal, but it actually is. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

A lot of my process has been setting boundaries with my mom… and then my dad (unexpectedly) and now, even more unexpectedly, my brother. My mom suffers from mental health issues. My dad is in many ways her enabler (or maybe disabler?) of the dependent, helpless life she lives. My brother moved back to Austin a few years ago, and had honestly stayed as unaware of the situation as he possibly could for a very long time – despite many efforts on my part to tell him, to ask for support. Now, he’s very aware of it and feels totally stuck. It seems like he’s finally where I was here, here, and here, but instead of it manifesting as panic attacks, he’s coping with it in different, equally difficult ways.

The moral of the story is I need to rethink those boundaries, and hopefully communicate them before this trip, if I have the guts to. I want everyone to work towards happiness so we can enjoy life, and therefore each other, even more. But for now, it seems like they’re stuck in their own painful, ineffective patterns, and I’ve tried so many times to communicate things that could help. They’ve never listened before, or never listened enough to make change. I have to get the courage to try one more time.

The Yo-Yo Dieter

That’s me.

I did my first Whole30 back in 2014, with great success. I felt amazing, I dropped 14 pounds in one month, and I genuinely didn’t want to go back to my old eating habits. I kept it up, with a few less restrictions, for several months after the thirty days. Gradually, I slid back into my old ways.

A year later, I did another, and a year later… well you get the idea. It turns out that after each “re-set,” I regained by bad habits – and therefore the weight! – faster, not slower. This most recent time was by far the fastest yet. This past February, I did a Whole30 and I dropped from 149 to 138. I was super excited! I felt like I just needed to stick with the majority of the restrictions, with maybe one cheat day a week, and I’d continue to lose weight but at a slower rate.

That’s not what happened. It’s a mere 4 months later, and I’ve actually exceeded my start weight. I’m at 155 pounds. That’s the highest number I’ve ever seen on the scale. Sad day. It’s almost like I was trying to gain weight.

I did a tiny bit of research today, and it seems that yes, I am a yo-yo dieter. I’ve lost about the same amount of weight repeatedly for the last five years. I always lose it really quickly with a Whole30. I basically have an on/off switch: I’m either super restrictive, or I eat whatever I want. There are many reasons why this is bad for us, the most obvious of which is probably that it makes me feel bad, like it’s not even worth trying. That’s how I’ve felt most of today.

But it is! I’ve accomplished so many goals throughout my twenties: I’ve become financially stable using the methods of Dave Ramsey and Mrs. Frugalwoods. I have a great group of friends after searching for community for what feels like a decade. I’ve established healthy boundaries with my family, although that is a constant struggle. The work/life balance is also much more manageable.

So, I can do this. I turn 30 at the end of August. In the spirit of turning 30, my goal is to lose 30 pounds by 2019… and stay that way. That might seem pretty fast, but that will honestly be the slowest of my weight loss endeavors.

I’ve updated my points page and I’m happy to say you’ll be hearing a lot more from me. 🙂

This was a four point day.

 

 

 

Tea Instead of Vodka

What an amazing summer it has been. (And Winter & Spring… sorry for not writing more!) For teachers, summer is an essential reset time. Many end up doing plenty of lesson planning, curriculum research, and professional development sessions as well. I still have four weeks to get to all of that. 😉

I felt like I was really due for a break this summer. Last summer, the reality of making the mortgage on my own was starting to set in: I worked three jobs: curriculum writing for the district, tons of voice lessons, and was a section leader in a church choir. I still had a decent amount of down time, but it wasn’t ideal for summer break. Summer of 2015 I spent a lot of time questioning my career choice and almost quit teaching entirely, and my sweet dog Bartley got deathly ill over the Summer of 2014.

This summer has been about countless yoga sessions and dance classes, drinks with friends, a trip to Puerto Vallarta with the boyfriend and his family, bike rides, and so much cooking. There has been an over abundance of joy and relaxation, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have the space for all of the things I love. If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I’ve worked really hard to minimize the chaos and create space for joy.

The last few days, however, I’ve felt pretty down. I feel like there could be something big that I need to process, some huge ugly cry I need to have or something. Of course this is uncomfortable because I like being content. It’s lovely to be happy, but it isn’t really sustainable in my opinion, although many people think happiness is the goal. For me, contentment is the goal, and right now I don’t feel content. I feel restless, irritable, unmotivated, mildly depressed.

Several things could be the culprit: PMDD – it’s basically hardcore PMS and it’s SUCH a nuisance, but I can’t deny the reality of it – spending the weekend at a family reunion in which I had to see my mother who seems to have completely given up on life, and the fact that I’m still grieving the loss of my marriage. Or perhaps some combination of all three. I’ve also gained weight this summer and I’ve allowed my frustration with that to lead to negative thinking.

With depression, everything feels like it takes too much effort, and the end result won’t be worth it. I’ve never had a debilitating depressive episode, and I don’t even think what I’m experiencing qualifies as depression, it’s more of a depressed mood. But, the fact is for the last three days now, I haven’t had a desire to do anything. I’ve still done what I need to, but it has taken great effort, and the whole time my mind has been full of negative thoughts.

So, tonight I’m choosing hot peppermint tea over my more typical summer drink: ruby red vodka mixed with lime la croix – (so very refreshing!) I’m going to explore these various culprits, but also seek out connection with the people who love & support me – the boyfriend, my dearest cousin, my best friend, and of course the pup – and rely on my most dependable (& therapeutic!) companion: yoga.

There are things in life that I cannot control, like my mom’s current lifestyle and the way my dad chooses to deal with it. I can’t change the fact that my ex-husband hasn’t found the peace and success he deserves. All I want is for these people I care so much about to find their own way to contentment, but their journey is theirs and mine is mine. It’s hard to let go of what I can’t control, but it’s often so necessary. Above all, I want to remember that letting go doesn’t mean I don’t care, so I’ll let go of that guilt as well.

 

 

October is My Mixture-of -Emotions Month

There are so many lovely things about October: The temperature finally dips below 90 degrees (or may be even 80 if we’re lucky!) There are music festivals. Eating out on the patio is actually pleasant. Walking my dog is refreshing rather than a drag. Ok, so most of the lovely things about October have to do with the weather. So be it. 😉

I have a pattern of slipping into a seasonal depression in and around October. It’s actually really common for teachers to start feeling overwhelmed, overworked and beyond exhausted at this time of year. Our start-of-the-year adrenaline has run out, and Winter Break feels unbearably far away.

I think that’s a lot of what causes me to slip this time of year, but my guess is there’s more to it. The change of season reminds me of Autumn in Hungary, where I first met my real self; where I felt challenged but happy, and so incredibly free. It’s also the month before I met my first true love six years ago, and a month before he moved here to be with me five years ago. October is the month that most of my saddest posts were composed (2014), some even remaining private due to their dismal subject matter. And finally, this time last year Andras and I were closing on our house together, starting what seemed like a new chapter in our relationship.

This week, all of the warning signs of depression have been popping up: feeling exhausted most of the time, fantasizing about sleeping, putting off simple tasks due to lack of motivation, not wanting to be social, avoiding exercise, eating poorly, irritability at work, negative thinking, and lack of focus. I really don’t want to get sucked back in. I’ve been enjoy my life so much these last few months. Life is so good.

I plan on getting rest and re-establishing my routines over the next few days. Hopefully that will create space for more a more positive outlook. And I won’t judge myself for feeling this way. It’s happening whether I want it to or not, but I can choose behavior that supports happiness instead.