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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Who Can I Blame?

I used to be into yoga. Really into yoga. Kundalini Yoga, specifically. Then, I found some pretty disturbing articles about Yogi Bhajan, the man who brought Kundalini Yoga to the U.S., and it creeped me out – so I stopped. I was too afraid to talk about it with my teachers, but I couldn’t bring myself to practice anymore.

A few months later when my anxiety increased, I decided that just because there was a chance Yogi Bhajan wasn’t the man his followers thought he was, didn’t mean his teachings were bad. But I never quite got back on track. After four years of an almost daily, “sadhana” or practice, I thought, “Maybe I don’t need this after all. Maybe I can handle life on my own.”

Ha! I remember my favorite teacher saying, “Never stop practicing.” I thought he was being dramatic, or basing this advice on his many acid-trip (or worse) days during his sabbatical from yoga. I didn’t see drug addiction as a possibility for m, so I didn’t think I had too much to worry about. I thought I was in the clear. Besides, I heard a lot of similar comments from fellow yoga practitioners. I was 17 years old when I graduated from Kundalini Teacher Training, the day after my high school graduation. Everyone said things like, “I wish I had started yoga when I was your age! You’re so lucky!”

On my 18th birthday, I used birthday money to get “Sat Nam” – Truth Is My Name – tattooed on my chest. It’s basically the Kundlini version of Namaste and is stated at the end of every class. I was fairly certain I’d found my spiritual life path.

Since then, a lot has happened. I had a blissful year in Hungary, followed by one life change after another. Some were bad, some were good, but they were all life changes. As you read in this post:

I need a foundation, something to believe, something to come back to, something that assures me that I’m always ok, no matter what, even when I’m not. Was I just naive? Is this possible?

So, who can I blame for this mess I’m in? Change can be so gradual. Early in high school, my thoughts were basically a constant prayer to God. I spent the vast majority of my time either at church, choir, or my Christian rock band. This constant dialogue with God was extremely positive, extremely comforting. I knew no matter what happened, I’d be taken care of.

Then, I started getting interested in things that weren’t necessarily Christian – aka, sex out of wedlock with my super hott choir boyfriend/first love! – and I couldn’t stand the thought of being a hypocrite. Yoga was my replacement. The philosophy really clicked with me, and I felt so peaceful after classes, so grounded. I felt something that I had always thought was underemphasized at church – the God within. Or, in Christian terms, the Holy Spirit.

It was so empowering to know that God is in everything. Everyone. And therefore must be a part of me. In order to feel peace and contentment, all I needed was to get closer to the aspect of God residing in myself.

So, somewhere between stopping my sadhana, the human Ellie has taken control. I’ve let go of my God within, forgotten that I’m perfect, forgotten that I’m taken care of no matter what, and started to believe that the pressure is on me to act right, be right, think right. In this environment, anxiety is welcome, not peace. And depression and anxiety are good friends. Where one sets up camp, the other usually follows.

My “Points” goals are a little unreachable at this point. Everything still feels overwhelming. So this week, these are my only daily goals:

Life

  1. Yoga – 5 points
  2. Journal – 3 points

Work

  1. Plan my lessons – 5 points

Sat Nam.