Breaking Through

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Hello there!

Here’s a check in on the reboot process!

I was feeling really low and extra sensitive right before Spring Break, as I mentioned before. Feeling like an exposed nerve all the time was driving me crazy and I just couldn’t seem to shake it. I ended up spending a lot of time resting over that break and filling up my cup, the best I could. I came back to work feeling much better and it inspired me to actually take more time to care for myself.

I decided to devote a little over a month to deep, genuine self-care. My birthday is coming up in a little over two weeks. This isn’t a particularly monumental birthday, but birthdays are always important to me. After all my health issues over the years and surgeries, every year I get to be here is a gift.

I’m about half way through my self-care reboot and it has been invigorating. I am rereading an important book about eating and have made a commitment to exercise every day. I have been dancing and doing a 31 day yoga program. I am surprised to find that I am feeling better, not only physically, but mentally too.

I’m learning that an essential part of my self-care is food and movement. I am sure for some this should be common sense, but as someone who has struggled with eating disorders and self sabotage for most of my life, finding that this is true for myself has been enlightening.

I’m not trying to lose weight – I have done too much work on healing my body shame to fall back into that old thinking. However, I have been working to be the healthiest I can be for the last couple of years and these aspects of self-care are essential to attaining that.

Tonight I danced for 15 minutes and did a yoga routine for 30 minutes. It was the most challenging sequence I have ever done and I was shocked at how much stronger I have become just in the past couple of weeks. I’m becoming much more flexible and I actually feel so much better in my body after I’m done.

I don’t think this will end once I reach my birthday. I am building new, healthy habits and am seeing how this will only help me be better. I have also been writing quite a bit. I am able to sleep better and easier. Things are feeling good.

Breaking through barriers whether they are self-imposed or not is a big deal. It’s nice to see that I can show up for myself in a real way and take good care of myself. I am excited to see what the next weeks have in store.

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Reboot

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It has been a very long time. I realized recently that I took a hiatus from documenting my journey quite a while ago. I have continued to work hard, but needed to do some of it in private.

I feel like I left this unfinished. I have decided to do a self-care reboot after a couple of stressful months. Finalizing this blog is also something I am being called to pay attention to. I plan to do that over the next 30 days. After that, I might decide there is more to say, but I will see what happens as the month progresses.

In this reboot, I’m taking time to rest, turn off distractions and examine the parts of my life that bring me joy and energy and those parts that are draining me. This also means looking at my relationships as well and making adjustments.

I’m back to seeing my therapist…I’ll explain more when I catch you up on what has been going on the last couple of years ha ha. I’m writing and pursuing freelance opportunities. I’m building a portfolio for content writing with an awesome graphic designer and I have committed to 31 days of yoga.

My mat is showcased in the picture above, courtesy of a fun arty app. I find myself craving time on the mat. My body feels better and more free. My energy is up, even though I’m tired and I seem to be sleeping better.

Today was the hardest sequence so far. The theme was to honor where you are. I wanted to quit more than once and even paused the video to talk myself into stopping. I started to justify that I had accomplished sixteen of the twenty-nine minutes and that was good enough…I decided to stick it out and am glad I did, even though I’m already sore. My body continues to do amazing stuff, stuff I often don’t give it credit for.

I’m excited to go to the mat again tomorrow, even though I’m sore and nervous that the sequences are only going to get harder. It makes me feel strong and healthy. I’m excited to come back to this blog as well. So much has happened since I last wrote here and a great deal of my life changing experiences happened because of what I started in this blog.

Here’s to what I discover in the next thirty days. Cheers!

Coming Out of Hiding

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Hello Present Project!

I am back 🙂

I know I have been gone for a while, but please know I have been continuing my work on this project behind closed doors all this time. I started seeing a wonderful therapist and realized that I was digging into some deep things and I needed some quiet, privacy and space to explore it.

I have made some big strides lately and although I will still be keeping boundaries around some of the work I am doing, I am ready to document my journey here in this way.

I am working on a new project for the next thirty days called a RUHCUS. This is a wonderful, life-affirming process developed by Sonya Renee Taylor, the founder of the Body is Not An Apology. Check it out, it is an awesome group and community.

The core of a RUHCUS is to shake things up in a radical way in order to heal. I’m pushing at my edges in a way that I have never done before, and although it is scary, I know in my heart that this is the perfect time for me to embrace a radical shift.

I learned in in the final months of 2012 that my body was falling apart. I ended up having an emergency colectomy on December 26th and I feel very lucky to be here. It was terribly painful in many ways, but the beauty of the experience was seeing the beautiful community of friends and family who rallied around me to help me heal. I went to this community to help support me on this new project and again am pleasantly surprised and humbled by their support and love.

I am feeling pretty powerful at the moment, however, I know that throwing myself into such radical work will bring up some tricky things. I am not looking forward to that but I’m ready to tackle what ever comes up.

I will be posting more regularly, especially through this project. Thanks for still being here. It’s nice to be back!

I Wish I May, I Wish I Might

This is of my favorite mosaics near Times Square in the New York Subway. I tried my hand at mosaics a couple of years ago. I made some frames and jewelry boxes. I never attempted anything on this scale, but it was fun to take small pieces and find a way to make them into something bigger and beautiful.

I have been quiet lately for a reason.

I didn’t know how to make sense of what I have been experiencing in therapy and how to move those intense feelings into words.

This past week was especially tough. We worked our way into a  grove in the forest of my past and I am still attempting to process what we uncovered. We also discussed the idea of sacred space and erecting healthy boundaries as I make this journey.

That said, I am going to be silent for a while – at least in terms of this blog. I have been grateful to have the Present Project to document my journey back to myself and all the people who have supported me the past year and a half. Right now, I need to take a step inward and create some sacred space to help me heal.

I will plan on checking in again in a couple of months. I am conflicted about doing this because I’ve found the transparency this blog provides to be healing and effective in keeping me from isolating like I used to. However, it has become very clear as of late that I have some intensive work to do so that I can find the acceptance and healing that I seek.

I will still be blogging about writing and life at my other blog here. But for now, the Present Project will be under construction while I pursue some renovations of the soul and spirit. This blog has been worthwhile and enlightening. It helped lay the track for the journey I am embarking on in therapy. The last couple of weeks have been humbling and I know that I will not be the same when I emerge on the other side.

I will be journaling as I continue to work with my therapist and I may eventually find a way to share what I am experiencing right now. Until then, I want to thank the readers out there who have been a part of this with me. Please know that I am still working on being present, finding self acceptance and the strength to be myself completely without guilt or shame.

I will find a way to gather all the little scattered pieces of Mary and take the time to fit them back together into some thing beautiful.

Until then…

In Synch

Synchronicity is the word of the day. I had an interesting time at the CEC conference today. I went to a couple great sessions and one really awful one. I planned on eating lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, but felt compelled to go into a small cafe instead. I met a wonderful woman from California who was here for the conference too and shared a nice lunch with her, discussing special ed and our place in it. This afternoon, I took myself to a movie, that wasn’t the best movie I’ve ever seen, but it did mirror an important relationship I am traversing in my life right now. Then I drove around in the rain, singing and soothing my soul. I came across a beautifully haunting song that I’ve listened to a bunch of times, yet tonight, it spoke to me in such a profound way that I was soon crying too hard to sing. Even that soothed me. The song pulled something out of me that I had been unable to process until that moment.

I have always believed in synchronicity, but lately it has been everywhere – all around me. I couldn’t ignore it if I tried. I also have been overwhelmed with what I have already begun to understand in therapy. I have only been twice, but it has been so enlightening. I am understanding why I tick the way I do, finally. It is an eye opener. It is shaking me up too. We had a pretty major break through this week and the ripple of this realization is still impacting me in profound ways  five days later.

It is giving me a new lens to view my experience. That has been a synchronicity as well. I got my first tattoo a couple of weeks ago. I had wanted one for a long time. I couldn’t decide what I truly wanted and I was terrified that my body would do something weird like reject the ink like it rejected the piercings I had tried in the past. It was such an awesome experience. I shared it with one of my soul sisters and the symbolism for the image seems to be endless. It is the perfect symbol for so many experiences on my journey – exactly what I think a tattoo should be. It was empowering to face something I feared, realize it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined and then witness my body embrace it, take it in and heal.

The picture above was spotted on my trip to New York in China Town, 48 hours after I got the tattoo. Maybe my willingness to learn how to love myself, my decision to go to therapy and unravel the layers of dust that block the real me from always shining through is making it easier to follow my intuition again. Maybe these synchronicities are always around me, but I only notice every once in a while.

Either way, I am happy to have these events or coincidences. It helps me to have faith. It bolsters up my resolve to keep working and learning and trying. It soothes me and helps me to keep going, even if I am afraid.

Blossom

I am sorry I have been missing for a while. I have been meaning to post since I got back from New York and it has been crazy with work and my family members being ill. My brother has been in the hospital twice in the last two weeks and I just haven’t had the energy to get all my thoughts into words.

I have much to say, but I just can’t do it tonight.

I’ll be back soon to chat. I promise 🙂

Spring Awakening

I wanted to post last Wednesday, but I was feeling under the weather and couldn’t look at the computer screen for another minute. I woke up at about 1 am with a terrible migraine and was up most of the night in pain and nauseated. I thought I would have time to post sometime this weekend, but I had other pressing matters. I realized tonight that I never posted…sorry for the delay. I took these pictures at my parents house on Saturday after I got my haircut. The new blossoms were beautiful and a synchronistic reminder that Spring is awakening, around me and within me.

I had my first counseling session last week. It was supposed to be the week before, but I realized there was no way I could make it across town after giving TCAP for the last time, so I had to reschedule. I was nervous, but I knew as soon as I walked into her office, that I had made the right decision. I figured we would just get to know each other a bit. I was welcomed into her office and I immediately felt at ease. I haven’t had the easiest time in the past opening up to a counselor, but there is something about this woman that resonated so deeply with me, even just looking at her website, and that feeling carried over into the session. I was able to be extremely honest and she helped guide me to a very deep realization that shook me to my core. She also reassured me that I had a teammate on this journey and she would hold the space for me to explore and heal.

I think one of the reasons I am able to open up to her is that she is not just someone with a bunch of degrees. She has an intimate understanding of the place I have been in and it is her perspective on this sacred work that speaks to me. She is creative and kind, she is exactly the person I need by my side on this odyssey. I am being present and witnessing, not trying to fix or comfort or apologize. I am allowing something to blossom where it has been dormant in the bleak winter cold.

I am heading to New York this week for a long weekend and reunion with two of my favorite people in the world. I am ready for an adventure and a change of scenery. I am looking forward to being surrounded by the love of friendship, culture and the crackle of a busy city, and the chance to reflect on what I learned in therapy about myself this last week. I will check in before I leave.

Unique Spin

I’ve decided that at least until the end of school, I’m only going to post on Wednesday’s. That way I have a whole week to reflect on and write about. Today was another day of TCAP, tomorrow is our last day and it couldn’t come any sooner. The students and teachers have had about all of TCAP that they can stomach. I went shopping after work and bought healthy food. I went on a walk around the lake and cooked a delicious and healthy dinner for myself. I cleaned my kitchen and the bathroom and I did the dishes. I feel like I accomplished something and that feels good.

Tomorrow I start counseling. I’m excited, but  a little nervous. I know tomorrow will just be about getting to know each other a bit, but I know that there will be a time soon when I have to broach some subjects that I have successfully avoided for quite a while. I need to look these monsters in the eye so I can slay them, however, I have learned to be extremely skilled at avoidance. That no longer suits me, so I have to cross the moat and meet my fate in the woods.

I also joined Match.com again. I was on it once, briefly when I was 27. I updated my pictures, tried to come up with clever captions and tried to pretend that I wasn’t scared out of my wits. Last night, after much procrastination, I finished updating my profile description of myself and what I wanted.

It was very interesting to read what I had on there from five years ago. I was just finishing my bachelor’s degree. I was working a deadend job at the bookstore. I was revising my novel and now it is published. I now have a job that I love and am almost finished with my master’s degree. A lot has changed in five years.

It feels weird to try to write an advertisement on myself. I wrote clever, but cheesy sentences and then promptly erased them. I had the hardest time articulating what I was looking for because I kept trying to spin it in a certain way. Finally, I dropped the b.s. and just asked for what I really want.

Here’s hoping that something good happens. I’m trying to have an open mind and not have any expectations about what will happen. At the very least. it is another gesture to the universe that I am ready to change. I am still petrified of rejection, but as my friend pointed out, this is the best time for me to try again. I am starting counseling and I will be able to reflect on the experience (good or bad) with a trusted advisor to help me make sense of all of it. This is probably the perfect time.

Talk soon!

My New Crush

I am not putting a picture in this post because I have absolutely nothing that will do justice to the content. Not that this post is any more awesome  than any other post in my blog history, but I just have nothing in my arsenal of pictures to use. More importantly, there are no pictures in the universe of my new crush because he only exists in the pages of a brilliant, yet ridiculously heartbreaking book called, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

I’ve wanted to devour it like I usually do with great books. Stay up all night and read, but being how crazy busy my life is right now, I have been reading little snippets as often as I can instead. It is brilliant, I can’t say this enough. I have never read anything else by John Green, but I have a feeling that will be changing soon.

I normally write about books and such at my other blog, and I will more than likely post something about this over there too, but it has opened up a sore spot from my past and I thought it would be good to address it here. The Fault in Our Stars (TFIOS) is a love story and a life story of teens who are dealing with the side effects of cancer. Green does an impeccable job of explaining what this life is like. I have not been a teenager dying of cancer, but I felt like a professional sickie for a handful of years during my late teens and from my experience, he gets it just right.

I had a really trying day. I’ve been on prednisone for my silly lungs that just don’t want to let go of this bug and I was emotional from watching kids feel defeated from hours of standardized testing that does nothing but demoralize them. Nothing went according to plan today and that has now rippled into next weeks events as well. I called my mom and just broke down. She watched high school kids struggle through CSAP for years and understands. I also talked to her about how wonderful and tragic TFIOS is and she said, “Are you sure you should be reading this? It sounds a little close to home.” I answered with a choked sob.

It is close to home. I will say again that I did not have cancer. I did have a horrible illness where my brain believed I had a brain tumor (even though there was no tumor) and I went through everything someone with a brain tumor would go through, with the huge exception of not losing my life. I did almost go blind, and I am still beyond grateful that all my stars aligned and I moved up the food chain of specialists who were able to save my vision. I did lose most of my peripheral vision, but that is something I can live with. It was two years of spinal taps, excruciating headaches, E.R. visits and daily visits to the litany of doctors who were scrambling to fix me – it was hell. I am grateful for all of it because I never overlook the beauty I am lucky enough to witness. I know when things seem horrible that I have survived worse and it too shall pass.

Back to my crush.

Augustus Waters is one of the characters in TFIOS. He is irreverent and metaphorical, he is romantic and sarcastic. He is fictional, unfortunately. He is everything I would have wanted when I was going through the fight of my life. In all honesty, he is everything I would want now. I am grateful that Green wrote this unbelievably beautiful story, but I also hate him for making me fall for Gus.

I was lucky enough to have two incredible friends stick with me through my illness. Most people stayed away, it was a lot to handle. These two people and my family held me together. One friend was with me almost every day. She brought over movies and watched re-runs of Friends with me on the couch, even when my eyes wouldn’t work well enough to watch. She helped a doctor keep me still during a spinal tap even though she’s terrified of needles, she would call and check in with my mom when I was drugged up on pain meds and not up for visitors. She made the worse time in my life bearable and I will never be able to truly thank her for that. Ironically she will be in town this weekend and I can’t wait to tell her thank you again and hug her tight.

TFIOS isn’t just a book. It feels like a memory. It hurts to read about the injustice of losing life before it has even begun. It reminds me of how lucky I am that my brain was confused and not full of real tumors. It makes me glad that I am starting counseling soon and I can start to cut away the layers of scar tissue around my heart and really feel all I have ignored for so long.

Please visit John Green for yourself – his website is cool and his video blogs are awesome.

 All this inspires me to keep writing my stories and loving the beauty around me, despite the brutality and injustice that we all face every day.

Underbelly of Light

Things started to slow down a little this week. I only had one initial IEP meeting and one annual meeting. On Wednesday we started TCAP testing for the third graders and I could hardly get out of bed to get to work for a parent meeting before school. I had a feeling that some bug was trying to work its way into my system. Sure enough, Thursday rolled around and I was feeling pretty yucky. By Thursday night it was much worse and I knew I better be seen by my asthma doctor on Friday.

A teacher friend of mine suggested Umcka when I was under the weather in November. I had some this time and was able to start taking it on Thursday night when I started to feel sick. The doc put me on an antibiotic, prednisone, steroid nasal spray and albuterol nebs. This morning I still felt pretty sick, but this afternoon things started to turn around. I think the Umcka really did lessen the duration of it. It could also be that my lungs are not being bombarded with dairy anymore either.

I have a long weekend because of President’s Day and I am really excited that I seem to be on the mend and won’t be feeling crappy for all of my time off. I worked on my house this afternoon and felt very productive. I still have work to do, but it’s much closer to looking like my home than it was 24 hours ago.

I got a haircut last weekend and cut off at least 3 inches. It is now in a cute, sassy bob. I love it. I needed to shed some old energy and this was a good way to do it. I needed to leave some of myself behind to be swept away. I feel lighter in a lot of ways. I am looking forward to warmer weather when I can exercise outside again. In the meantime, once my lungs are a little stronger next week I am going to start making time for Zumba and Yoga again.

I feel like things are looking up. I am being proactive about a lot of things that I wish to change or shift. I am taking steps to reclaim my creativity and get back into writing. I am learning how not to tie my value to others or my body image.

Tonight, I am going to watch a movie and go to bed early. Hopefully, tomorrow I will feel even better.

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