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.

Let’s Be Honest…

I’m going to hold off on those Liebster Award questions for a while. I don’t know, somehow I’m overwhelmed by them. But I’m still excited about it, and so glad that I’ve reached almost 100 followers. That’s insane! Thank you all for reading!

So here’s what’s going on: Overwhelmed. For some reason, I’ve decided to take three groups to this huge competition. I’ve only taken one in the past, but now I have two extra non-varsity groups that are in pretty good shape. But I’ve never had the experience before where I don’t trust the group, and I don’t trust these groups. Not even my top group. They’re performing well below level right now. Blah blah blah.

What’s really going on, is that I’m way too focused on the outcome of this competition. My mind and energy are separated from reality, stuck in my expectations of how I want the competition to go. So it’s hard for me to go through the day-to-day steps necessary to get my students where they need to be, because I’m thinking more about where they need to be then where they are. We have to make the music along the way. It’s hard for me to let go of expectations, but I’ve learned from past experiences that it will ruin things, especially my ability to get things done, if I don’t.

The other part of this feeling overwhelmed stuff, is that no less than two months after thinking very seriously about leaving my job, I’ve taken on three UIL groups, and requested that one of my after school groups go on the choice sheets as an actual class, AND I asked for permission to teach a yoga class for next year. WTF?!

Now before you start to ponder my sanity, let me explain. Due to a number of errors in communication, I was given only a handful of days to “edit the choice sheet for next year” and these days happened to fall during one of the busiest weeks of the whole year. In order to make sure that my hypothetical future year at my middle school be a good one, I needed to make sure the choice sheet set me up for a good year. Did it feel weird? Yes. Was it difficult? Yes. Do I feel like if I leave now I’ll be screwing everyone over? (I mean who will teach yoga? Yikes) Yes. But I think I did what I had to do.

So now what? Remind myself to have expectations, but leave it at the finish line, not at the front of my mind. And remind myself that my success or lack of success at work or in life does not determine my happiness. I also want to do my 10 minutes of daily dedicated stressing, which is a wonderful technique for letting anxiety into my life on my terms. It’s not going away people, so I might as well show it who’s boss.

In other news, I fell off my version of the paleo diet. My digestive system is so not happy with me! At least I’m highly motivated to get back on the wagon.

One breath at a time. One step at a time. I’m just a human and it’s not my job to be perfect.

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.

The Way Things Pile Up

It feels like I blinked my eyes and jumped from two weeks of vacation, time to reflect on my life, think about my future, to repainting my classroom, baking a cake for my best friend, and planning the spring semester. Oh wait – that is what happened.

I woke up Friday morning and boom. Break’s over! I have my routines in place, so everything will be fine, but my body still has its habits. Yes, anxiety is here.

And just like always, the more I want it to go away, the stronger it is. Tonight my heart is racing, I’m hot and I feel sick to my stomach. I think I’m actually sick to my stomach so that isn’t helping things. That’s not to say pain/discomfort from anxiety isn’t real. It’s just for me, any kind of non-anxiety related pain or discomforted is quickly exacerbated by anxiety. And I think that’s what happened tonight.

The bottom line is: it was a stressful day, and work is starting up again, which means there will be a lot more stress in my life.

I will remember that I can determine how attached I am to day-to-day happenings, and work events. I can let go of thoughts that connect my worth as a person to my success at work and at day-to-day tasks.

And I will.

The Return

Things don’t have to perfect. Tonight, as I start to plan for the new semester, that is my mantra, because whoa – hello anxiety! Now that I’m planning things, and realizing how soon I go back to school, my heart feels like it’s racing, my thoughts are unfocused, and I’m even having chest pains. No fun.

Some of what I’ve done this break is explore other career options. I’m going through the book, “I Would Do Anything if Only I knew What it Was.” I haven’t found fulfillment in my work in quite some time, so I think it’s time that I start exploring other options. Part of that exploration, is also trying to find the root of why I don’t enjoy my job anymore. In talking with my therapist about this issue, we’ve discussed that one possibility is that my happiness in life actually depends on how well I do my job. I am way to attached to my success at my job. Times like this, when the anxiety sinks in, I think it’s possible that the attachment is 100% of my problem with work.

I wish I could just be excited by new ideas, rather than overwhelmed by them. I tired a couple of things to attempt to relieve the pressure. I looked at all of my events for the rest of the semester, and made lists of everything that needs to be done regarding each event. I thought if I got the tasks out of my mind, and onto paper, it would help. I did a little.

My next idea was to plan the first week of school, and that’s what I just couldn’t do. Tonight, it feels like too much. I put it on my list for tomorrow, in hopes that would put it out of my mind for tonight, but my loving friend Anxiety is here to stay, I think. Actually, I just made the list a little more specific, so I do feel a little bit relieved.

The first week doesn’t have to be perfect. The whole semester doesn’t have to perfect. In fact, I don’t even have to be a good teacher in order to be the wonderful, perfect person that I am, just the way I am.

Cheers to letting myself be my imperfect perfect self. 😀

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.