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.

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!

Moving Abroad

Andras and I have been talking more seriously about not spending the rest of our lives in the great state of Texas. The truth is, while Texas is great and yes, my family is here, if you’ve been following closely, you know this isn’t really my home. It’s taken me a while to understand, but I do recognize that I could find fulfillment anywhere if I was true to my awesome self. I don’t have to live in a some magical place in order to find that. I know it’s all up to me.

But being away from my home town, getting some space between me and my family, would certainly help. I’ve already distanced myself from certain friends that I struggle being myself around.

But why leave the country? I love and feel very comfortable in most of the European countries I’ve visited. I also click more easily with the Europeans I’ve met than I do with Americans. A LOT more easily. But honestly, this one comes down to Andras. He’s just not happy here. He’s not the same, confident energized guy here. He’s depressed here and it’s affected all aspects of his life and many aspects of our life together.

So, we’ve done more than just talk about it. We’ve set goals for what we each want to accomplish, listed what we need to accomplish/do together before we can make the big move. Right now we’re thinking Rotterdam, The Netherlands where Andras did a student exchange. A place with some of the best architecture in the world, mild, rainy weather year-round, tolerant people, and bike lanes galore. 🙂 I should probably visit first though. Don’t worry! That’s on list too. It’s looking like a 5-year plan right now. We also have a couple USA cities to visit too, just to keep our options open.

So, what made me share all of this? I’m waiting for Andras to finish up a meeting, and I found a coffee shop next door. (Actually a espresso / gelato specialty place – man I wish my digestive system wasn’t so angry!) Being in this new place, all by myself, a few people speaking a different language, is taking me back to that feeling of being in a new place. A place where no one knows me, and I can just be.

I know I can always just be, but since it’s a constant struggle for me, I appreciate the chance for it to be easier than usual.

I’m looking forward to this future with Andras, and I’m also happy to be reminded of what it’s like to travel somewhere alone. It is so quiet, so liberating. It’s one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. And I’m grateful for that.

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.

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. 😀