The Winter of My Discontent

I’m sitting in my living room with the sun streaming through the window. It feels warm on my face and I close my eyes in an effort to take it in fully, soak it up, hold onto it. This is a rare moment of peace these days. A moment when it feels like things are going to be okay. There’s room to breath. The sun is shining…all is well in the world.

This has been—and may continue to be—‘the winter of my discontent.’ (I’m sure Shakespeare will be cool with me borrowing that line from “Richard III”.) But for those of us on the positive thinking track, it appears negative, ungrateful, destructive. Many days I have shut myself off from the world believing I should feel better. Other times I’ve written about it and then felt guilty for focusing on it. Truthfully I’m just trying to learn how to navigate—an ultimately accept—this is a part of my life.

As early as middle school I can remember having these feelings—fear, anxiety, depression–and wondering what was wrong with me. In my 20s and 30s I took anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications to quell the thoughts and feelings that seemed too dark to face. But taking medication to ‘fix’ the problem left me feeling like there was something wrong with me. So I stopped. It’s been almost 14 years since I used those drugs to get through the difficult times.

But something else has happened; something more insidious than the low moods themselves. Over the years and in the reading of self-help books too numerous to count, I am back to believing there is something wrong with me; that I need to be fixed.

I do believe positive thinking can be vey helpful. I’ve seen it in my own life. But the downside of taking positive thinking too far is that when I’m feeling angry, fearful, frustrated, or sad, I beat myself up. Mentally and emotionally I kick my own ass. And I gotta tell you…it’s exhausting!

What do we say to someone who’s feeling down? “I hope you feel better soon,” right? Because we believe (myself included) that ‘feeling better’ is the goal. But what if ‘better’ is part of the continuum between suffering and joy? Neither one of those states is superior to the other. They are equal participants in the human condition. What if we could say instead, “I love you no matter how you feel and I’m here if you need someone to listen”? What if we (and by we I mean I) could be more accepting? Especially of those feelings that are uncomfortable to us.

Moods are just like the tides…they follow nature’s rhythm. Sometimes they’re high, sometimes they’re low. But you don’t think there’s something wrong with the ocean just because the tide is out. And if it feels like it’s been low tide for far too long, don’t worry. High tide will return when it’s supposed to. In the meantime, think of all the treasures there are to discover when the tide is out—seashells, creatures of all kinds, the occasional message in a bottle.

The treasure I have found is writing.

Writing, for me, has become a way to talk about the things I don’t really know how to deal with. It’s also my way of finding ‘my people.’ Not as a vehicle to commiserate or feel sorry for myself. But just to feel heard and understood. This is how I can do something constructive with what I’ve learned; how I can help those who have similar struggles and feel like no one understands them. I write about my life to say, “I get you…and there’s nothing wrong with you.”

Like me, you may be sensitive and not realize it, feel things more deeply than other people and not know why. That’s okay. Really.

For most of my life I’ve tried to understand what I thought was wrong with me so I could fix it and be like other people I’ve admired. But now I’m taking a different approach. I’m learning to find more acceptance and love for myself. To be honest about what I’m feeling or thinking and not force it to be any different. To realize this is the way I am and I don’t need to apologize for it. It might not always be pretty or seem ‘in control’, and that’s just fine.

The irony is in accepting the parts of myself I’ve worked so diligently to fix, I realize more and more there was nothing wrong with me to begin with. And in the wise words of The Beatles…I’m learning to “Let it be.”

**This post is in memory of Debbie Ford who taught me to accept all of me…the good and the bad, the light and the dark. She believed our gifts are in the shadows. And it is only in accepting the whole of who we are that we will really become all that we are meant to be. I am forever grateful for that lesson and for the many other ways she changed my life. Wherever you are, Debbie, I hope you realize the impact you have made on the world. But most of all I hope you know how much you are loved.**

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Faking It On Facebook

Image credit unknown

Image credit unknown

Do Facebook posts seem a little too unrealistic at times? A little too saccharine sweet? A little too ‘everything’s happy and wonderful all the time’?

I’ve been struggling with Facebook lately and it has me considering this: Are the selves we present on Facebook our real selves? Or are they the version of ourselves we want other people to see? Sometimes when I scroll through my page, I have this perception that everyone has it altogether except me. I want to show my true self, but I don’t want to be the one Negative Nelly complaining about not living the life of her dreams.

In Sheryl Paul’s recent post Delete Your Facebook Account: A Revolutionary Act, she writes, “The bottom line is that very few people – if anyone – tell the whole truth on Facebook. Most people present a skewed slice of their life which is inevitably their “best”, most polished self. This creates a fantasy world where the message is: Nobody struggles. Nobody questions. Nobody has anxiety. Nobody has depression. Nobody doubts.”

I definitely struggle, question, have anxiety, depression and doubt, but I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always share my true feelings on Facebook. When I’m feeling lousy I generally tend to stay away…or at least not post anything. I don’t want to be perceived as “that person” as my friend Jina says.

But some days I just want to say fuck this shit! I’m feeling lousy so could you all stop drinking the kool-aid and let me have my moment? Don’t you ever feel lousy too?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting everyone air their dirty laundry or use Facebook as a place to be nasty to others. But I appreciate honesty. We all have difficult times in our lives. Our marriages fall apart, our kid gets kicked out of school, we battle life-threatening illnesses, we make big, scary changes, things don’t turn out as we expected. Is it really so wrong to let other people see our fears and disappointments? Why do we feel compelled to hide those parts of ourselves?

I, for one, would like to see more realism. And that starts with me.

My commitment with this blog and in all areas of my life is to be more authentic, more real, more me. But when I don’t feel safe to share how I’m really feeling (on Facebook or anywhere else), I’m not being authentic. I’m being the version of me I want you to see…happy, positive, together. The version of me I think you won’t judge.

But that’s not the real me. At least not every day. I have many ‘good’ days. But some days are hard, frustrating, and downright shitty! What if we could all share a little more of our real selves with one another?

I do love that I have so many positive people on Facebook. And I mostly enjoy their inspirational, upbeat and positive posts. But some days they just don’t resonate with me. And on those days I have to choose whether to be honest about where I’m at or just stay off Facebook for the safety of all concerned.

Today my tea had the best advice: “Appreciate yourself and honor your soul.” For me that means appreciating and honoring even (or especially) when I’m sad, depressed, unmotivated, irritable, or just plain shitty. And part of appreciating and honoring is being vulnerable enough to be honest.

Thanks Yogi Tea! I’m doing my best…on Facebook and everywhere else.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

It’s Not All Puppy Dogs and Roses

bad_day22Life. Sometimes it sucks. I have a bad day. Or I’m in a lousy mood for no particular reason. What the hell is wrong with me?

Lately I’ve been beating myself up for not being happy all the time. If you’ve read some of my recent posts you know I’ve been feeling down, unmotivated, confused, afraid and ‘trying’ to accept that. My success rate is pretty dismal. Truth be told I’ve been resisting it with every fiber of my being.

Why?

Because I have a belief I’m supposed to be happy all the time. Or at least as often as possible. And when I’m not happy, I should be actively working to shift my mood so I can be happy again. Working at happiness. That sounds fun, right?

It’s not.

There’s a fine line between healthy positivity and neurotic obsessing. I should know. I cross it regularly. And when I can’t be positive and happy and in love with life every minute of every day, I beat myself up. I compare myself to other people who seem to have it altogether. But I had it all wrong.

As Bridgette Boudreau wrote in her post My So-Called Emotional Life, “Happiness in its healthy state is a passing emotion. Its role is to show us when a particular thing or event is joyful and then it passes. Happiness is not intended to be a static state.”

Whoa!

The down times don’t mean I don’t have a good life or I’ve chosen the wrong path, or there’s something wrong with me, or whatever other meaning I assign to them. They’re just a reminder I’m human.

When I constantly strive to maintain a state happiness, anything less feels like failure. I don’t blame myself entirely…I had some help. Everywhere you turn the message is happiness at all costs. We’ve created an entire industry around it. It’s called advertising. Turn on the TV, listen to the radio, read a magazine, or even my favorite genre of books, self-help, and you’ll hear someone touting happiness like it’s the end all be all. Buy this product, take this pill, get this job, go on this vacation, find the perfect mate. And on and on it goes. The message is your goal should be happiness…24/7.

And I bought it. Hook. Line. Sinker.

As Bridgette goes on to say (and I’m paraphrasing here) the real goal is peace…no matter what emotion you’re feeling. What a relief!

The last month has been difficult. And even though I’m not on top of the world, I am feeling like I’m slowly coming out of this. That’s the way it usually goes. My friend Donna reminded me, “Maybe you just needed to rest.” She could be right. I certainly did alot of that over the last month. Maybe there was some emotion I needed to feel, that I wasn’t allowing myself to have. Maybe there was no reason at all. I’d love to say I’ll handle things differently next time. That I won’t fight it so hard. That I’ll realize it will pass. But I can’t say that with any amount of certainty. What I can say is I discover a little more each time I go to that dark place.

Slowly I’m learning whatever it is I’m feeling–happy, sad, afraid, joyful–I can just be with it. Invite it in. Make peace with it. And let it go on its way when it’s done with me. I don’t have to hold on so tightly. It will take some practice. I will forget. And then something will remind me. Isn’t that what life’s all about?

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

I Owe My Body an Apology

Source: tender-love-is-blind.tumblr.com

Source: tender-love-is-blind.tumblr.com

I’ve put my body through a lot in the last five years. First it was a severe diet and exercise program resulting in a great looking body, but a seriously damaged mental and emotional state. Then more than a year in a long distance relationship, traveling back and forth across the country while spending my ‘free’ time getting my house ready to sell. Insert devastating breakup here. After that it was a new job where I spent two years working 60-80 hours a week in a highly stressful environment trying to ‘prove’ myself.

All this has taken a serious toll on my physical health. Duh!

After I was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue in May, I did a lot of research. I discovered how hard my body has had to work these last few years. I’m ashamed to admit there was a time in my life when I was hyper-focused on weight loss and the way my body looked. It’s all my friends and I would talk about. In the shadow of compromising my health, it seems so shallow; so superficial.

And yet…here I am again.

Recently I stepped on the scale and the number staring back at me shocked me. As much as I hate to admit it (especially in this public forum), I’ve gained back all the weight I lost and then some. And I’m irritated with myself that I feel less than because I’m heavier than I used to be.

I’ve been tempted to blame my body for failing me, but it had no choice. The weight gain is a result of reaching for caffeine, carbs and sugar, which I used to keep going every day in such extreme circumstances. It was a trade off. I ignored my body’s signals to rest, to go easy on myself. I pushed it to do more and more and more. I was unreasonable, unrelenting, a brutal taskmaster at times.

Not once thinking about what I was doing to myself, I took my good health for granted. I believed my body would keep doing what I asked, no matter how hard I pushed it. And my body did its best. It really did.

This has been a difficult lesson (aren’t they all?) for someone who has built their reputation on being the person who comes through no matter what. You don’t realize how much harder everyday tasks are when you’re physically tired and in pain much of the time. When even showering and getting dressed can be exhausting. But there’s nothing else I can do. If I keep pushing myself I’ll only do more damage to my body. So the alternative is learning to accept I am able to accomplish less right now. Much less.

Sometimes I think, “I just want the old me back.” But I don’t really. Okay…maybe I want parts of her back. Mostly her energy, her strength, and yes…her waistline. But what I am trying to let go of is the part of me who pushes so hard. Who doesn’t take care of myself. Who thinks my poor body will keep going no matter what.

Little by little, I’m learning to pay more attention to what my body needs and listen less to the voices in my head that tell me what it should look like. And even though it’s tempting to go on yet another radical weight loss plan, I know that’s not the answer. Putting more demands on my body will not allow it to heal. Treating myself with kindness is the only way to better health.

Who I am and how I show up in the world is so much bigger (pun intended) than what I weigh. Though I don’t always live it, in my heart I know it’s true.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Be Where You’re At

okayPerhaps the title of this post should be “Take Your Own Damn Advice!” I’ve actually written about this recently in my post, “Go On…Have a Bad Day.” But as much as I know this and would advise a friend to do it, turns out I’m not very good at doing it myself.

I have several go to phrases I use when someone is having a difficult time:

“Be where you’re at.”

“You’ll be done with it when you’re done with it.”

“The only way out is through.”

These are not platitudes to me. I really believe them and I think they are helpful when one is up to their eyeballs in resistance. They are reminders to stay present; to not judge yourself. To feel your feelings rather than try to numb, stuff, or ignore them. The problem is it’s not always easy to practice what I preach.

I’ve been feeling down. Unmotivated. Kind of a general malaise. Not for any reason in particular; at least not one that comes to mind. But I’ve been judging myself for it.

As a new life coach trying to navigate my way through building a practice and honing my skills, I’ve found coaching myself to be difficult at times. I have a whole new set of judgments. “A ‘good’ life coach would be more positive. How can I coach other people when I can’t even get my shit together?” And the ever popular, “How do I expect to get what I want out of life when I feel like crap?”

So there I am…fighting how I feel. Feeling stuck…and miserable.

And then I started to cry.

I was sitting in meditation when this feeling of sadness came over me. I’d actually felt it several times over the past couple of days, but I tried to ignore it. I told myself I didn’t have any reason to be sad, so I pushed the feeling away. But as I sat there and let it be without judgment, the tears began to fall.

When I allowed myself to feel the sadness an interesting thing happened. The tightness in my chest eased up…just a bit. The dark cloud that had been looming over me felt a little lighter. I suddenly felt like writing again.

The message here? Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself the way you would treat a friend…with love and compassion. Drop the judgments and feel what you feel.

Well, at least that’s the message for me today. If it resonates, then maybe it’s the message for you too.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

candcbigThere’s alot of talk this time of year about New Year’s Resolutions. Set goals, make changes, plan for the future. Honestly, just thinking about it is exhausting!

If you read my post No More New Year’s Resolutions at this time last year  you know I realized resolutions, such as getting more organized, losing weight, or paying off debt, were just something I used to beat myself up; to not accept myself as I am. Though they appeared well intended at first, striving for them always kept the life I wanted just out of reach.

Like the ever-elusive dangling carrot, I believed making good on my resolutions would finally make me happy. I was living the “I’ll be happy when” lie. “I’ll be happy when I get to my goal weight, I’ll be happy when my house is organized, I’ll be happy when I pay off my debt.” “I’ll be happy when” is a trap. Because that belief asserts I need to do or be or accomplish something to be happy. And it seemed I could never quite get there. Or, if I did, I couldn’t manage to stay there very long. So a couple years ago I decided to stop making resolutions and just get on with the business of living my life.

Now, instead of resolutions, I set intentions for myself. Ways of being I’d like to be more focused on. Something to come home to when I get off track (and I do) from time to time. My theme for 2013 is Courage and Clarity.

Courage: To be who I am, to follow my dreams, to live by and break my own rules, to stand up for what I believe in and to lay down and rest when I need to.

Clarity: Of heart, body, mind and soul. Tuning inward to hear my intuition and do what’s in my own best interest. Even, or especially, if that means doing nothing at all.

This doesn’t mean I give up the idea of changing things that aren’t working for me or striving for something that’s important to me. It just means I’m not waiting until I do, be, or have something in order to fully inhabit each day as it comes. I can stand in Courage and Clarity at any moment…no matter what’s going on in my life. It’s not easy and I sometimes find myself back on the hamster wheel of DOing instead of BEing. It’s then that I remind myself there’s nothing to do and I have everything I need.

As 2012 comes to a close, my life doesn’t look the way I thought it would when we ushered in this year 365 days ago. I’m struggling with a health issue, I was recently laid off from my job and I really don’t know what’s going to happen next. But surprisingly I feel more at peace than I ever did while I was busy chasing those things I thought would make my life complete.

I do love the magic of a new year. It feels like a turning point where we can leave the past behind and start anew. But the truth is we can don’t have to wait for January 1st. We can start over any day we choose. Every day, every hour, every minute is another opportunity to choose to be present and live the life that’s right in front of us. Those extra pounds and clutter and debt ARE our life. Don’t be so busy trying to change things that you miss how truly perfect it already is.

As we welcome a new year, I’m wishing you peace and presence on this day and every day you are blessed to experience.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

Go On…Have A Bad Day

Source: shinyfortheshow

Source: shinyfortheshow

I’m feeling down today. I don’t want to do anything. I don’t have any energy or motivation. I don’t want to sit in front of my computer. And I’m having a hard time being okay with that.

I’ve been reading other people’s Facebook posts and emails about planning and goal setting and making big changes in 2013 and I’m comparing myself. The ‘shoulds’ are out in full force:

  • I should work on my coaching business
  • I should get to my To Do’s
  • I should be encouraging others
  • I should feel fine
  • I should make plans before the week gets away from me
  • I should get dressed (at the very least)

Yesterday I gave myself a day to do nothing. I was tired from all the holiday hubbub and needed to rest. My system is so run down, I have to be extra careful how I expend my energy. So I laid on the couch all day watching TV. It was lovely! And I thought if I gave myself permission to do that, I would be raring to go today.

But I’m not.

Last night as it got dark out, I plugged in the lights on the Christmas tree. I love how they twinkle and sparkle. It feels so magical. But for whatever reason, the lights didn’t work. I’m not sure what happened since they had worked every day up to this point. And it sort of feels like a metaphor for how I’m feeling. For some reason, my internal lights won’t turn on right now either.

This morning as I sat drinking my coffee and looking out the window, I felt a deep sadness. Tears welled up in my eyes and I let them fall. I didn’t realize until that moment I needed to cry. And even as I write this the tears start to come again.

As I think about what message I want to share with you today, it’s the message I most need to hear myself. That it’s okay to feel bad…even when things are going well. You can have a good life and still miss the pieces and parts that didn’t work out the way you’d hoped. You can have a wonderful holiday with friends and family and still miss the one who left a hole in your heart.

I know the more I resist this, the more of a hold it will have on me. And judging myself is just another way of resisting. So I’m letting myself have a ‘bad’ day, knowing it won’t last forever. I’m learning to accept whatever this moment brings me.

For me and for you…sometimes there’s a reason we feel down and sometimes there isn’t one. You don’t need to figure it out. You just need to feel what you feel.

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I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.

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