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.

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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!

 

 

A Year Later

FunnyNewYears

This is super negative, but too funny not to post! Gah – I love it. I know a lot of us feel this way, and it’s easy to get sucked into that kind of thinking this time of year. I almost gave up on New Year’s Resolutions a few years back. In fact, last year I felt I had to give them a new name  in order to have a shred of hope about them.

I still really like the New Year’s Routines I came up with, but would emphasize a few, let go over some, and modify others slightly. Let’s see:

AM Routine
1. Quiet time/yoga
2. Take care of my dog, Bartley (feed, meds, walk)
3. Make breakfast, pack lunch (I have a mini fridge in my classroom now! So now, the new routine would be to do food prep on Sunday so I have everything I need for lunch for the whole week ready to go with me on Monday.)
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 in this brilliant way. 
5. 10-minute clean (Inspired by this amazing post) 

PM Routine
1. Get things ready for the next day
2. 10-minute clean
3. Quiet time by 10:00 9:00 PM. Journal or blog.
4. Lights out by 10:00 PM.

I’ve talked a lot in previous posts about how for me, routines are kind of my lifeline. If I don’t have the information of my life organized, it’s just floats around in a very chaotic manner. I keep thinking, “Oh -don’t forget this, don’t forget that.” Sticking to my routines creates space for joy, and that’s what I’m all about.

2015 Celebrations 

  1. Yoga is back to being a major part of my life! It is my foundation. I make it to class 2-3 times a week, and my thinking has shifted to being more self-loving centered. Yay!
  2. I’ve successful mastered the habit of making lists in the way described above, which has helped me be WAY more productive at work. I also frequently use timers & the amazing “do not disturb” feature on my phone to maintain focus.
  3. More reasonable expectations of myself at work. (More) successfully living in the moment, enjoying the fun of teaching and interacting with my students, rather than obsessing about performances and competitions.
  4. Much better handle on anxiety! It is still a big part of my life, but I don’t run away with it when it comes along. I am able to stay mroe present and not give into the panic.
  5. Better spending habits! The Total Money Makeover has really helped me and Andras.
  6. I’m sure I have more to proud of, but these are the big ones.

I will let this picture sum up what I want for 2016. newyearsroutines2016_01Also, I didn’t forget about my plan to start a new Whole30 on December 28. I just realized I had too much non-whole30 compliant food in my fridge and pantry that I didn’t want to go to waste. PLUS, I’m all out of money, and will need to go on a very thoughtful grocery trip before I can start. So, at the risk of being totally cliché, January 1 will be be my starting day. 😉

Happy New Year!

10 Months Tomorrow

Yep. If I don’t hurry up and write this post by midnight, 10 months will have passed since I last posted. 10 months! Let’s see how quickly I can get you caught up…

  1. All that stuff about being sick in the last post? Well, I was sick, but then anxiety kicked in and perpetuated the sickness, until I finally decided to take one less group to UIL contest. From that point on, the school year was basically an exhausting, chaotic but manageable blur. Year 4 was not my year. Also, Andras and I finished all 10 seasons of Friends in 5 months. Haha!
  2. Over the summer, I did yoga. Lots of yoga! And thank goodness. After a couple of classes, I realized I had kind of forgotten how to breathe. I know that doesn’t really make sense, but let me explain. Taking deep, expansive breaths, actually felt uncomfortable. Something that used to give me a lot of peace, felt foreign and forced. However, after only a week or so of regular practice in the studio and at home, I began to trust my breath again. The whole summer became about retraining my body to breathe, my mind to trust my breath, and my thoughts to center on self-love.
  3. I very seriously contemplated not going back to work as a teacher. I almost broke my contract. The other leads I had gotten didn’t go anywhere, so here I am, tackling year 5!
  4. The school year got off to an AMAZING start. There are still really rough days, and the early mornings and insanely long hours are definitely the toughest part, but in general I’m enjoying my work this year. 🙂
  5. Andras and I bought a house! Yay – no more roommates! It’s the perfect size, in a great neighborhood, and ah! We just love it.
  6. Anxiety still sneaks up on me at times when it is least welcome, but it is a LOT less scary than before. After my most recent panic attack, I turned to Andras and said, “I just need to treat everyday like it’s the morning after a really horrible panic attack.” And that is so true. ROUTINES, long deep breathing, meditation, stretching, eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising. This is the lifestyle I need to maintain if I want to sustain myself and make room for joy.
  7. I need friends. Three of my closest friends have moved away in the last year, my best friend has lived in LA since we graduated from college, and all of my other friends live in Europe. Loving myself as I am and trusting myself in social interactions, so that I can connect with people is definitely a goal of mine for 2016.
  8. Family. I love my family, but I get caught up in their imperfections, their inability to take care of themselves.. I wish I could just let them be without feeling responsible for fixing things and helping them. It’s really hard when I can see they’re emotionally drained. The holidays will be difficult.
  9. My dog now has an instagram.  https://www.instagram.com/sir_bartley/
  10. I still don’t put myself to bed early enough, AND I’ve been eating absolutely terribly. I’m sure I’ve gained back all of the weight I lost while on the Whole30 – so it may just be time for another one.

That was the quick run down. I hope to be less of a stranger next year. More coming soon!

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.