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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Moving Abroad

Andras and I have been talking more seriously about not spending the rest of our lives in the great state of Texas. The truth is, while Texas is great and yes, my family is here, if you’ve been following closely, you know this isn’t really my home. It’s taken me a while to understand, but I do recognize that I could find fulfillment anywhere if I was true to my awesome self. I don’t have to live in a some magical place in order to find that. I know it’s all up to me.

But being away from my home town, getting some space between me and my family, would certainly help. I’ve already distanced myself from certain friends that I struggle being myself around.

But why leave the country? I love and feel very comfortable in most of the European countries I’ve visited. I also click more easily with the Europeans I’ve met than I do with Americans. A LOT more easily. But honestly, this one comes down to Andras. He’s just not happy here. He’s not the same, confident energized guy here. He’s depressed here and it’s affected all aspects of his life and many aspects of our life together.

So, we’ve done more than just talk about it. We’ve set goals for what we each want to accomplish, listed what we need to accomplish/do together before we can make the big move. Right now we’re thinking Rotterdam, The Netherlands where Andras did a student exchange. A place with some of the best architecture in the world, mild, rainy weather year-round, tolerant people, and bike lanes galore. 🙂 I should probably visit first though. Don’t worry! That’s on list too. It’s looking like a 5-year plan right now. We also have a couple USA cities to visit too, just to keep our options open.

So, what made me share all of this? I’m waiting for Andras to finish up a meeting, and I found a coffee shop next door. (Actually a espresso / gelato specialty place – man I wish my digestive system wasn’t so angry!) Being in this new place, all by myself, a few people speaking a different language, is taking me back to that feeling of being in a new place. A place where no one knows me, and I can just be.

I know I can always just be, but since it’s a constant struggle for me, I appreciate the chance for it to be easier than usual.

I’m looking forward to this future with Andras, and I’m also happy to be reminded of what it’s like to travel somewhere alone. It is so quiet, so liberating. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. And I’m grateful for that.

Liebster Award! & Out of the Loop

I can’t believe I’ve been so out of the loop! It’s been over a month since I’ve posted and that is just insane. I am honorded to mention that Little Misadventures nominated me for The Liebster Award! Thank you so much! The Liebster Award is a blogger to blogger award. These are the rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person who nominates you.
2. Answer the questions given by the person who nominates you.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Create 11 new questions for the nominees to answer.
5. Let the nominees know they’ve been nominated!

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time tonight to answer the questions Little Misadventures asked or nominate 11 other bloggers, but I should be able to get to that this weekend. I’m excited!

So, since we talked last, I’ve made several major improvements in regards to life stuff and work stuff.

In general, I am definitely being more intentional! I have great focus when it comes to day to day tasks, rather than just flying by the seat of my pants, letting the chaos get the best of me, leaving me to feel unmotivated and overwhelmed. So whoo! Also, in general, I’m sticking to a mostly paleo diet. I’m also doing GREAT sticking to my budget and paying off debts. That feels incredible. I highly recommend The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. In less than three months, Andras and I have: established our $1000 emergency fund, and paid off our two lowest debts. It feels so good!

Here is something huge I learned about myself this month. Two weeks ago, I felt pretty depressed. I didn’t want to wake up, felt completely unmotivated at home and at work, daydreamed about sleeping, and was irritable. I finally sat down to make some difficult (work-related decisions) even though the process gave me such anxiety. Thankfully I had some good friends by my side to help me think through the pros and cons of all the options. When I work up the next morning, it was like a switch had been flipped. Suddenly, I had energy again, I felt competent again.

Looking forward, when I’m feeling like that, I’ll know to ask myself – what decisions am I possibly avoiding?

Overall, my routines are serving me well. I still really need to work on getting to bed by 10:00. My therapist advised that if I made it a pleasurable experience, i.e. eating some dark chocolate and drinking a glass of wine while watching an episode of something wonderful with my husband, I might find it a little easier. It’s true, but it’s always so tempting to watch yet another episode…

Things I’m still working on:
Sticking to my 90% paleo diet
Not letting my success or lack of success at work or in life determine my happiness – catching the “Yay I’m awesome because _______” and “I can’t believe I fucked ____ up again” thoughts midstream, and letting them go.
Being intentional about my daily routines, actions, and thoughts.

Thanks for listening! I look forward to answering The Liebster Award questions next time.

New Year’s Routines

Happy New Year!

Remember this post? Well, in response that my last post, I’m brushing up on the clearly defined routines I set out at the beginning of the school year. I desperately want these routines to be the focus on my life, so that I can make more space for me, time with my husband, and in general, so much more joy.

AM Routine
1. Quiet time / yoga
2. Take care of my dog, Bartley

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3. Make breakfast, pack lunch
4. Shower, get ready.
5. Leave by 6:30

AM Work Routine
1. Check email
2. Prep classroom and materials

PM Work Routine
1. Clear desk
2. Check email
3. Make phone calls
4. Go through to to-do list
5. 10-minute clean

PM Routine
1. Get things ready for the next day
2. 10-minute clean
2. Quiet time by 10:00

Other Routines to Try Out This Month
Monday = groceries day
Tuesday = yoga day
Thursday = something outside
Sunday = plan week with husband

30 minutes of me-time a day
30 minutes of dedicated time with husband a day

I know it sounds like a lot! I’m also thoroughly aware that I have a tendency to go overboard, so we’ll see…

But the idea is that one day soon I won’t have to think about these. They will be my daily habits for getting shit done and then I will have so much more space for fun and joy.

Happy New Year!

Routines

When I fell in love with my now artist husband, my routines went on pause. Actually, when I moved in with my now artist husband, my routines went on pause. At the time, this was somewhat necessary – I had lived a way too scheduled life. I learned how to have impromptu coffee breaks with friends for a few hours, or just lay around.

But what I discovered last night in talking to my best friend (and probably something my therapist has been directing me to for months 😉 ) is that without these routines, I don’t have a a way to manage the chaos. This isn’t a new revelation actually – I’m sure I’ve written about it in this blog before, just with different words (I hope I’m not boring you!). I think with me, it sometimes takes realizing the same thing in multiple contexts for it to finally stick.

What I’m trying to say is, I don’t have a creative artist brain like my husband. I don’t want to get things done when it seems right to me, or when I happen to be thinking about it. I want to make lists, prioritize, and schedule things. And why?

Because when I do, then I can make time for the things that re-energize me, things I’ve written about recently that I never make time for: yoga, exercise, baking, spending time with friends. When I’m trying to manage the chaos one piece at a time, rather than putting it together and figuring out how to it fit it into my life, I just get overwhelmed. That’s when I think I don’t have time for the stuff that brings me joy, energy, and even peace.

What I need and want isn’t just goals, it’s routines to help me achieve the life I want to live. Routines to make sure there’s time to really nourish myself and my needs. 

What Exactly is Wrong?

Well, before we go down that road, let me tell you something I’m very proud of! I lost 14 pounds while on the Whole30 challenge! I also built some great habits, such as shopping and cooking for myself, and staying away from processed foods. Yay! Since I completed the challenge, I’ve gained 3 pounds back, and I’ve realized that I just don’t do well without a lot of restrictions. So, I think paleo is the way for me! Now, just gotta get through the holidays, as paleo as possible, and sprinkling in exercis!

So what’s wrong? I sort of want to make a Throw-Up list of everything that’s wrong, but I don’t feel quite ready for that. Here are the symptoms:
1. Depression
2. Anxiety
3. Frequent mood fluctuations
4. Lack of motivation at work
5. Lack of motivation to be social
6. Feeling unable to connect with others
7. Feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus.

These things are not my constant state of being. In fact, for the last few days, I’ve been feeling pretty good (I’m on Winter Break – go figure!) Here are some break-throughs I’ve had with my therapist lately.

  1. Maybe I just don’t like my job. Maybe I feel too much of a financial burden, that I resent my job, because my job pays the bills. Maybe if I didn’t hold so much responsibility (aka STRESS) at home, stress at work wouldn’t be such a big deal. I got a book: I Could Do Anything if Only I Knew What it Was, and plan to dive into it a lot this break, and let thoughts of alternative occupations percolate a bit. This is a HUGE step for me. I am very skilled at what I do, and have spent many years working towards this career. The thought of walking away is mide-boggeling, but at the same time, something isn’t quite right the way things are. I spend too many days not excited at all about going to work.
    2. Negative self-talk & attachment to success are leading to my fluctuating moods. Basically, I wake up in the morning, and see everything ahead of me, and I tell myself, “I won’t be able to do it all, I’m sure I’ll forget something, I don’t even want to face the day, etc., etc.” But then, a rehearsal goes well and I think, “I’m so good at this! Maybe I do love my job!” And then the lunch break hits, and I’ve forgotten my lunch, so then I think, “What is wrong with me? I’m not even organized enough to remember to pack my own lunch! What happened to my morning routine.” Get the idea? Picking up a book tomorrow that I had a few years ago but loaned to someone: Feeling Good.
    3. Lack of communication with my husband. There are a lot of things regarding my husband and our relationship that I’m disappointed about, and I’m afraid to communicate them to him. I know from watching my parents dysfunctional relationship that if I don’t put the effort in to improve our relationship, things will only get worse, and if I avoid these problems I’m in essence is demonstrating that I’m more afraid of change than I am in love with him. I do love him, and I do want to improve our marriage. In the new year, we need to start couples counseling. I’m not sure he sees the need for this, but I think he’s open to trying it out.

I just went back and re-read all of that and the negative self-talk started up again. “When did I become such a mess?” And then a smile crept up onto my face. Hello! That’s what my 20’s are about! That’s what this blog is about! I am trying to figure this shit out, find out what makes me happy, learn how to save money, understand what hobbies, career(s) give me purpose, inspiration, bring me joy, discover my “chosen” family of friends, and so much more.
My intention during my yoga practice tonight was to send love to myself. I want there to be so much love going from myself to myself, that there isn’t any room for negative self-talk, self-doubt, insecurities.
This will be my daily intention, my yogic intention, throughout all of winter beak – to set a foundation of self-love as I begin all of this exploration.

Picking Up My Feet

I wouldn’t say I’m moving forward yet, but I am picking up my feet.

I was in the mood to be productive today. I thought I’d have the whole afternoon to get caught up on work, but unfortunately, it was a busy professional development day, and then I had meetings after school as well.

I was productive in another way, though! I successfully made it through Day One of the Whole30 program. I’m hungry… 😀 This is what I ate today:

  • Breakfast snack: pineapple, cantaloupe and grapes, black coffee
  • Breakfast: zucchini frittata (from yesterday’s post)
  • Lunch: arugula salad with easy, homemade rosemary dressing
  • Snack: banana
  • Snack: carrots and tomatoes
  • Dinner: Herb chicken, yellow squash and roasted carrots
  • Snack: banana

Someone advised me to eat whenever I’m hungry and not worry about portion size in the beginning, as my body is getting used to the new diet. As time passes, my appetite will adjust.

I guess we’ll see. Here’s to checking off more of my to-do list tomorrow, and getting a good night’s sleep tonight!