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.

 

 

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.

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!

Back to school – Back to work

I had no idea the transition back to school would go so well! I am SO excited about this school year. My classes are full of kids who are truly excited to take choir, and my schedule is basically a dream. My conference period is the last period of everyday, which is going to help me immensely when I have concerts or events after school. 

It’s only day 3, but here are some changes I’ve made that I hope will turn into habits. My points need to be modified some…

  • Establish a morning routine: In past years, I’ve let my level of exhaustion determine how long I sleep, if I pack a lunch, etc. Because I didn’t have a routine, my basic needs like breakfast, lunch, coffee, shower, work outfit, etc, where often not met. Now I am aiming to do the same thing every morning, to establish a foundation for my day. 1. Quiet time 2. Take care of Bartley 3. Breakfast/make lunch (put previously divided sandwich bags and tupperwares in my lunchbox) 4. Show/get ready 5. Leave by 6:30. Of course, in order to do that, I have to wake up at 5:15 (OUCH!) Which leads me to…
  • Being in bed by 10:00, electronics & lights off by 10:30. This gives me almost 7 hours of sleep. 
  • Organizing has turned into a “10-minute” clean. I love this idea. I found it on pinterest, and it’s almost ridiculously easy. You just set a timer for 10 minutes, and clean as much as you can during that time. The craziest part? I’m usually finished in 7 or 8 minutes! All these years I’ve dreaded cleaning, and it was something I could accomplish in 10 minutes or less. Insane!
  • Before I leave work at the end of the day, I go through this checklist: Clear desk, check/respond/archive emails, make necessary phone calls, complete or review the next days lesson plans, add to the next day’s to-do list, and 10-minute clean of my classroom. 

I am feeling so optimistic about these changes. These, along with eating well and daily yoga/meditation are my current “points.” If I can build them into habits, I know I will become the organized professional I want to be.

Let my inner virgo shine! 

Yoga Days and Change

I just want to take a moment to reflect on the changes, large and small, that 2014 has brought me – so far

  • Distance from my family (intentional on my part)
  • A new apartment without roommates
  • Anxiety more powerful than I could ever imagine
  • Marital struggles (Nothing too serious, but the honeymoon is over 😉 )
  • Good-byes to students of 3 years as they go on to high school
  • A new car!
  • An older dog
  • And the motivation to love myself enough to work towards my own positive change. Life doesn’t have to be so difficult. I think it’s like yoga: the more you put into a class, the more intentional you are about it, the more you get in return. I want to see each day as a new yoga class, ready to give something back to me, even when it feels like it’s just shitting on me…

Today’s a 5-point day. 🙂

Plans

I love planning things. I love goals. I love calendars, and schedules, and thinking through  all of the steps I would need to complete in order to achieve my ideal lifestyle.

What usually happens is that I see the big picture that I want to achieve, and then try to do it all at once. Of course, it becomes too much, even when I have an entire summer break, and I get discouraged and slowly but surely fall back  into my old routines, forgetting my amazing plans.

Obviously, this isn’t a very good technique then, is it? 🙂 It’s so interesting, because I used to be incredibly disciplined – when I was a teenager actually. Isn’t that so backwards? At one time I was a vegetarian who exercised diligently 3-4x a week (cardio and yoga separately) weighed about 130 pounds, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, meditated *daily*, got enough sleep, and didn’t even have facebook. This was between the ages of 16 and 22. Crazy, right? I’m not saying I want a more restrictive lifestyle, I’m just saying I used to have the willpower to say “no” or “sure, I want to do that now, but it’s not worth it because ______ is my belief, or goal.” I used to believe that it was worth it to stick to these activities because, overall it would improve my quality of life, and unlike now, I actually lived that way.

So what happened? Indulgence, I guess.  I started with – well, wouldn’t it feel good to just relax instead? And in many ways I think I needed to let up a little. My social life was seriously lacking. It’s just unsettling how much a little bit of extra relaxation has turned to complete lack of motivation. The fact that I work 50-60 hours a week during the school year doesn’t help much either, but that’s not an excuse for living a lifestyle I’m not proud of, that doesn’t energize me.

I’m going to do something my therapist affectionately calls, a “throw-up” list. 🙂 You’re about to see all of my lifestyle change goals, in no particular order. Feel free to skip this  – it’s likely to be pretty boring.

Lose 15 pounds, exercise 3-4 times a week, daily activity that is the “foundation” for my daily experience – be it yoga, meditation, or walking to work – learn Hungarian at an advanced conversational level – this isn’t totally random, my husband is Hungarian and as you know, I feel at home in Hungary – 7 hours of sleep, stick to my monthly budget, spend more active time with my dog, walk or bike to work – never drive, drink wine or liquor – avoid beer, be myself 100% of the time, – avoid obsessively reading other people’s body language and modifying my behavior accordingly – journal, learn new things, plan meals – make grocery lists and vague weekly menus, take care of my appearance – clothes, make-up, hygiene (not obsessively), routinely clean my house, classroom and car so that the mess doesn’t become overwhelming, travel often and sometimes completely on my own, choose the right way, not the shortcut, help others whenever I can, write, build-up my “chosen family” support system and depend on my family less, and I think I could keep going, but I won’t. 🙂

Between school ending and leaving for this vacation, I focused on working out about 20 minutes  a day, eating better using MyFitnessPal as a guide, and following a simple cleaning routine. Even though I’m now on vacation, I want to keep moving forward, but I will have a different focus. (It would be wasteful to pass up tasty desserts and food that are unique to Hungary!)

So, for this week, I will focus on these 5 points. Let me know if you think I’m still overdoing it. Moderation is something I struggle with!

1. 20 minutes of cardio.

2. Brief yoga or meditation

3.  Almost daily journaling or blogging

4. A few minutes of organizing

5. Careful with what I eat (i.e. snacking less, drinking wine or liquor rather than beer)

I love this one:

 image

Yoga w/Neighbors and Dogs

For a lot of teachers, (and all types of work-week-working people) Sundays can be kind of a downer. If they actually tried to relax on Saturday, then they have to do everything else on Sunday…

sunday-ecard

(I don’t own this.)

Or maybe they didn’t even take Saturday off, and they still have a lots of shit to do, so they know they won’t get to relax at ALL this weekend, and that makes them frustrated and bitter. *sigh*

Sometimes it’s just knowing that Monday means another week of running around at a million miles an hour, endless to-do lists, and trying to breathe through all of the stress.

Thankfully, so far my Sunday definitely doesn’t feel like the first two. It’ll probably feel like the last one at some point, but we’ll put that off for now.

I woke up fairly early for me, considering it’s the weekend – about 9:30. 😀 I think this is mostly because I took Friday off so I’m actually caught up on sleep and have energy to do things like eat a simple but healthy breakfast, and do yoga in the backyard. I’m staying with a friend right now because, like I said, something pretty traumatic happened over Spring Break. Even though our lease isn’t up for 2 months, I don’t plan on ever going back to our old place, except to move out my things.

This is this reason the last couple of weeks have been so difficult. Where will we (husband and I) live? Who will we live with? What can we afford? Can we stomach going back there? Will it hurt our roommates if we choose to leave? And on and on and on…

So yes, I was doing yoga in the backyard – in clear sight of the neighbors, and with the pups romping around.  But I just said to myself,  “Whatever, I’m actually in the mood to do this, and there’s no way I’m staying inside with weather as awesome as this.” It was really good. Prior to yesterday, I can’t remember the last time I actually did a full yoga set.

I’ve had an interesting yoga journey, and that’s not something I want to dive into too much today. The best thing yoga has done for me is train myself to really and truly believe that I’m  good and perfect just the way I am. I actually got really into it in high school, and I think it was the first time that I had those thoughts about myself, for myself. I wasn’t depending on someone else to affirm it for me, i.e “Of course you’re a good person, I wish I was more like you, etc.” For the first time it was coming from within.

As we 20-somethings know, this decade is a little more complicated than the previous, and I’ve let myself let go of this self-loving ideal, wishing I was more this or more that, even though I’m doing a pretty damn good job.

With the pups wrestling underneath my Downward Facing Dog, my intention was to: Remember that I am a creative, energetic being.

Cheers to Sunday afternoon.