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.

 

 

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.

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!

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!

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.

Can’t Wake Up

My dog actually forced me out of bed this morning. I guess I didn’t give him a long enough walk last night. I’m very grateful he cried and woke me up though, because I had already slept through my alarms(s) because I couldn’t bear to set my alarm that’s across the room last night. *sigh*

As I was walking Bartley, I had this thought: I’m not even all that tired, I just don’t want to face the day.

I guess this is one aspect of depression. I think I’ve had many days like this, I’ve just blamed it on (real or exaggerated) exhaustion.

For now, I’m setting a timer for five minutes, and then waking up to get ready. Hopefully writing about this got some of that attitude out of my system.