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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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!

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.

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!

A Good Day

I’m happy to report that today was a good day. I had a good session with my therapist yesterday. I definitely have a lot of work to do in order to get back on track and start feeling better, but at least I’m energized from talking to her.  She gave me some homework:

  1. Go to one yoga class this week.
  2. Walk 25 minutes 3x this week

One of the things she said in our last session, was that the motivation comes after.  This really clicked with me, because it definitely happens a lot that I just can’t get started, but then once I do one thing, I feel so successful that it motivates me to do more.

So why was today a good day? I actually made a to-do list, and accomplished several of the tasks. A friend asked me out to happy hour. That just made my day. I think I’ve actually become quite lonely.

Also, some of my students made me a build-a-bear and presented it to me in class! I’ve been given a lot of sweet presents since I started teaching, but this one really got me today. I just couldn’t believe they took their own time and money to do something so nice for me, and all because they know I’m having a rough time getting ready to move – again.

Let’s see, there’s more! When I got home from work, I took Bartley on a long walk, so I got one 25 minute walk in. Then, I made my lunch for the rest of the week, before going out for drinks with my friend. Have you heard of Whole30? Maybe I’m setting myself up for failure because I’m taking on such a difficult task right now when I’m struggling to do the minimum, or maybe it’s just the structure I need in order to get some sort of foundation back in my life, but either way, I’m planning to start tomorrow.

After drinks, I came back and made my breakfast for the week. Here’s the website about the Whole30. It’s seems like a great program, and the best thing is, you can get all of the info you need without spending any money. 🙂 It’s basically a 30-day Paleo challenge. I’ve been eating terribly for the majority of the last few years now. It’s a vicious cycle of indulgence followed by guilt and negative self-talk. According to a lot of testimonials, eating Paleo for thirty days can help break those habits, and actually halt the cravings for foods that aren’t good for us. So, I studied up on it, went grocery shopping and took my starting weight: 151. I start tomorrow!

Here’s my breakfast for the rest of the week. It’s my variation on this recipe. The sausage I got isn’t actually paleo (added sugar), so I couldn’t use it, and I got yellow squash instead of zucchini. 

It’s nice to know that I did a few things to be proud of today. I definitely had trouble connecting with my friend, mostly because I didn’t want to talk about how I’ve been feeling down lately. I just wanted to enjoy the time with her. However, I might have felt more comfortable if I’d just got it out in the open.

It’s way past bed time.  Thanks for listening to my ramblings. I really do appreciate it. 🙂

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.