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.

 

 

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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.

Just Another (Divorced) Twenty Something

Well actually, I guess that isn’t technically true (yet), but Andras moved out in April. I’m sorry I’ve stayed away for so long, but I just haven’t really felt ready to talk about this. At this point, I’m not really sure what I want to say, but somehow, I feel ready. 😉

Andras and I had a beautiful, whirlwind, international romance. I have no regrets regarding our meeting, moving here together, or our marriage. I simply recognize that I wasn’t ready for it. Much of the challenges you may have read about on this blog: the constant need for creating space for joy, for establishing routines, remembering my hobbies etc., were because I was in a relationship that withdrew my energy, rather than filled me up.

And for a long time I was 1. unaware of it, 2. denied it, 3. didn’t know what to do about it. The sad truth is that the relationship went without nurturing for so long that by the time I finally confronted him about it, there was nothing left. There was nothing left to fix. By the time February rolled around, I had figured out how to have all of my happy feelings on my own. No matter how much I (logically) didn’t want to give up on my marriage, I had no true desire to work on it.

We tried counseling for a few months, but it was over. Isn’t that insane? I virtually never had doubts about us until it was just over. It’s like a switch flipped. Do any of you know what I’m talking about?

Andras is a wonderful person, and I’m not proud of how our relationship came to end. I am grateful that he seems to understand why it wasn’t working and doesn’t have any (major) hard feelings towards me.

2016 has been a wonderful year full of change and settling in. I’m settling into a life I’ve wanted. I’m settling in to doing things for me, being honest with myself and others, and enjoying all the space I want and need. 2016 has been about boundaries, vulnerability and honesty.

-That’s the best I can do for now.

Happy Feelings!

Hehe – this is what I always exclaim when I’m watching a show or movie with Andras and the couple in the spotlight finally have their first kiss, or share a sweet moment. You know, the butterflies in your stomach, ridiculous smile stretched out across your face, can’t even take a breath feeling…

That’s kind of how January has been for me. I’m almost uncomfortably happy right now, which sounds a little weird, but let me explain: As some of you know, my life has been full of change for the last 4-5 years. How can things be so simple now? I finally have a home – no roommates! And Andras and I just love staying home, cooking, hanging out, not really doing too much of anything. That should be boring right? NOT! It is gloriously simple, refreshing and wonderful.

The other reason it’s uncomfortable is because my mom has struggled with depression my whole life, and was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, so whenever I feel really great, I wonder, “Am I just happy or could I be manic?” I’m certain that’s not the case because I’ve read enough about bipolar disorder, and have a friend who is an excellent resource – check out her blog! – but it’s still a paranoia of mine.

I made so many changes this month and the last few, that’s it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is bringing me such happiness. Since the blog is a great place to reflect, here I go:

  1. Routines. You already know about my obsession with those, so I’ll spare you this time. 😉 The most important one I’ve stuck to lately is getting enough sleep. It makes SUCH a difference. I have a nighttime routine now that starts at 8:30, and it’s lights out at 9:30, which makes waking up at 5:30 so much easier.
  2. Whole30 – no dairy, grains, legumes, soy, added sugar or alcohol for 30 days. We finish on January 30, and at that point I will add in small amounts of dairy (mostly as a seasoning) wine, and a sweet day – I mean a cheat day.
  3. No coffee! I sort of unexpectedly gave this one up a couple of weeks ago. As much as it feels  like I need it, I just don’t. It only leads me closer to anxiety, and I’ve noticed I now sleep much better.
  4. Yoga! 3x a week or more. Making that special time for just me is so important. When I don’t go, I at least meditate at home.
  5. Drinking enough water. I have a 24 oz water bottle, and I try to fill and drink it 3x a day.
  6. At work, my after school clubs haven’t started up. They will start up this week, so I need to do everything I can to plan carefully so that I don’t feel overwhelmed by them. They are supposed to fun extracurricular activities, something that the kids enjoy and are proud of. And that’s it. As soon as I make it more than that, it becomes stressful for me, and too much for them.

It will be interesting to see how the after school clubs, entering competition season, and modifying my diet slightly affect my happiness. Hopefully, if I keep up all of the other structure that’s making so much room for joy, I’ll stay in this lovely zone.

And when shit hits the fan, as it always does, I’ll just try to remember to breathe and laugh.

Almost nothing is ever as big as it seems.

3-day Weekend Fun!

School hasn’t even been back on for very long, but this three-day weekend was still welcome!

Things have been going really well. Andras and I have stuck to the Whole30. Tomorrow will be day 18! We’ve even started discussing what next month will be like. As of tonight we’re thinking we’ll keep excluding grains, soy and legumes, because we really don’t miss them, but add back in dairy (only as a seasoning), wine for me, beer for him, and a weekly cheat day. I’m finally seeing changes in my body, and it feels really good! I can’t wait to share how much I’ve lost. I’ve also noticed my skin seems much healthier, and I think I have more energy. Win!

I started two new things last week as well. #1. No coffee. GASP :0 But, I’m just too prone to anxiety, there’s really no need for it. And as long as I get 7 hours of sleep – enter item #2 – I think I’ll be fine. The first two days of trying life without coffee were welcomed with the worst headaches. By day 3, I didn’t have a headache, but I just feel sooo tired, and by day 4 I started coming out of the fog.

Work is work –  I’ve had some great days back, and some awful days back, but my routines are making everything more manageable, logistically and emotionally. My goal for the next few weeks is to be very conscious of how much I have on my plate, and to not take on too much.

Andras and I went on two movie dates this weekend. We saw Carol on Friday, and Anamolisa today. Carol was slow but beautiful, and I definitely cried. Anamolisa was really unusual, but 100% engaging, thoughtful, and many times comedic.

Obviously, I think I’ve missed too many days to get you caught up on all of my Whole30 meals, but I’ll list some of my favorites here:

http://www.generationyfoodie.com/2013/06/paleo-almond-chicken-fingers.html

Easy Roasted Vegetables + Amazing Giveaway

http://www.thetwobiteclub.com/2014/05/kielbasa-pepper-onion-and-potato-hash.html?m=1

Oven Baked Crispy Chicken Thighs with Garlic, Lemon and Scallion

Days 22-23 and #Whole30 Buffalo Ranch Chicken Meatballs

And here are a couple of pictures:

almond crusted chicken tenders

Almond crusted chicken tenders with roasted carrots and boiled dutch potatoes.

buffalo ranch meatballs

Buffalo ranch meatballs over spinach and arugula mix with roasted potatoes, carrots and eggplant. Mmmm SO delicious.

I’m really grateful to have so much space in my life right now to take care of myself, and work on these routines that make room for so much more joy in my life. 2016 is getting off to a pretty fantastic start for me, but I’ll still love myself when things don’t go my way, or when I do things I’m not proud off. Be back soon!

Back to School!

The first two days back to school have gone really well! Yesterday, before the kids came back, I deep cleaned my classroom which was SO necessary and felt so great to accomplish! Today, all of my classes went really well. I have two new classes, but otherwise, I have all of the same students. I’ve also done an awesome job of sticking to my routines, and sticking to the Whole30. It’s so helpful that my husband, Andras is doing it with me this time.

None of this (short-lived, so far) success is a reflection of me as a person. Sure, I’ve done a good job, and I am proud, but I’m a fantastic person even when I don’t succeed. 🙂 And so are you!

To get you caught up on my Whole30 meals:

Day 3
Breakfast: 4 scrambled eggs with 1 shallot, 1 mini sweet pepper, and 1 clove of garlic. Black coffee.
Lunch: Spinach salad with 1 stalk of celery, 5 cherry tomatoes, and 1 Aidell’s apple/chicken sausage. For dressing, 1 tbs olive oil with sea salt and cracked pepper mixed in.
Dinner: LOOOOOVED this slow cooker recipe for tikka masala! I also made this cauliflower rice, which was super delicious and very rice-like.
Snacks: Leftover rosemary-shallot potatoes from Day 2’s dinner.

Day 4 – kinda bland – first day back at school
Breakfast: Anti-inflammatory Blueberry Smoothie, black coffee
Lunch: Uncured salami, 1 boiled egg, 2 clementines, 6 oz unsweetened applesauce
Dinner: Leftovers
Snacks throughout the day: 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, 1 banana, 1/4 raisons, 1 Aidell’s apple/chicken sausage, 1 clementine.

Day 5 – very similar except for Dinner
Breakfast: Anti-inflammatory Blueberry Smoothie, black coffee
Lunch: Uncured salami, 1 boiled egg, 2 clementines, 6 oz unsweetened applesauce
Dinner: Pork chops with garlic powder, salt, fresh rosemary, thyme and sage. Mashed potatoes (unpeeled) with shallots and garlic, and ginger green beans.
Snacks: 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds, 1 banana and, 1/4 cup raisons, 1/4 cup raw almonds.

My goal is to up the protein, and lower the carbs and sugar these next few days.

Excuse any typos! I’m trying to get to bed as close to 10 as possible… The 5 AM wake up call hurts!

 

 

January Blues

I’m struggling to enjoy my final moments of break. It’s been a really great break. It has been so much fun spending hours on end with Andras, watching ER (yeah! You read that right!), walking Bartley, and now cooking, as we’ve taken on the Whole30 challenge together.

Day 2 Menu
Breakfast Snack: Anti-inflammatory Blueberry Smoothie 
Brunch: 2 scrambled eggs, strawberries & blueberries, sausage, hash browns, black coffee.
Snack: Salami

Whole30Day2 (1)

Dinner: Salt & Pepper Shrimp. It  was INCREDIBLE! You can find the recipe here

Dinner continued: For the mashed potatoes, we added one shallot, 1 T of fresh rosemary, and 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk. Mmm! It all turned out really well, and was very easy!
Snack: Strawberries

But, back to the fun stuff – January Blues. 😀 I guess I’m just getting caught up with thoughts about the impending back-to-school stress fest, rather than living in the moment. I think it would help some if I did some lesson planning early in the day tomorrow. I am beyond grateful that Monday is a professional development day, and our administrators are actually giving us the majority of the day for prep.

Goals for tomorrow: Sleep in. Yoga. Plan. Breathe. Eat Well.

Good night!