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.

Just Another (Divorced) Twenty Something

Well actually, I guess that isn’t technically true (yet), but Andras moved out in April. I’m sorry I’ve stayed away for so long, but I just haven’t really felt ready to talk about this. At this point, I’m not really sure what I want to say, but somehow, I feel ready. 😉

Andras and I had a beautiful, whirlwind, international romance. I have no regrets regarding our meeting, moving here together, or our marriage. I simply recognize that I wasn’t ready for it. Much of the challenges you may have read about on this blog: the constant need for creating space for joy, for establishing routines, remembering my hobbies etc., were because I was in a relationship that withdrew my energy, rather than filled me up.

And for a long time I was 1. unaware of it, 2. denied it, 3. didn’t know what to do about it. The sad truth is that the relationship went without nurturing for so long that by the time I finally confronted him about it, there was nothing left. There was nothing left to fix. By the time February rolled around, I had figured out how to have all of my happy feelings on my own. No matter how much I (logically) didn’t want to give up on my marriage, I had no true desire to work on it.

We tried counseling for a few months, but it was over. Isn’t that insane? I virtually never had doubts about us until it was just over. It’s like a switch flipped. Do any of you know what I’m talking about?

Andras is a wonderful person, and I’m not proud of how our relationship came to end. I am grateful that he seems to understand why it wasn’t working and doesn’t have any (major) hard feelings towards me.

2016 has been a wonderful year full of change and settling in. I’m settling into a life I’ve wanted. I’m settling in to doing things for me, being honest with myself and others, and enjoying all the space I want and need. 2016 has been about boundaries, vulnerability and honesty.

-That’s the best I can do for now.

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.

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!