Breaking Through

final

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.

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!

Lighten Up

I was right. Sunday was pretty bad still, but things did start to feel better on Monday. My inner critic is still coming to the surface more than I’d like, but I made a decision on Sunday that I would be finding a counselor to speak to about the things that came up last weekend. Just making that healthy choice for myself helped to lighten things for me.

I have been to counseling before but not for about 13 years. I had a friend recommend a couple of people, but I had someone in mind that had certain expertise. I did an online search and found a woman who really resonated with me, even through a web page. I contacted her and planned to speak to her on the phone tonight.

We did talk and I felt very comfortable with her. I am not quick to open up about my feelings with people I know and trust, yet alone a stranger. That sounds kind of funny, I’m sure if you have been following this blog on a regular basis but I really have to force myself to be honest about my feelings in this setting. Anyway, we spoke for a while and I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was for me to open up to her. I was honest and put my concerns out there. Maybe it was that we connected well, yet I think it also helps that I am ready to stop living in a way that doesn’t value me. There was a lot of synchronicity about this counselor and I’m excited to see where this leads.

I’m a bit nervous about paying for it, but I can submit the invoices to my insurance and she will offer me a sliding scale as well. Committing to this is also a statement about my worth. I am finally ready to work through these feelings of unworthiness and claim ownership of who I am.

Good night.

Back in the Saddle Again

Today was the first day back from break with students. It was a long day because I had so much to do since I really went on a vacation over break and did not do any work. I’m also dragging because I could not sleep last night. It was kind of like when I was a student in elementary school and it was the first day back to school. I finally got up after rolling around for an hour and did stuff around my house at 12:30 am. I got about four hours of sleep.

I am definitely going to bed soon! The kids were super sleepy today and I was yawning right along with them.

I have been working on my house a lot and it is looking like it’s an extension of myself. It has been homey ever since I moved in, but it felt kind of empty when I took down my Christmas decorations.  I hung a bunch of artwork last night and I am really enjoying seeing it up on the walls again.

I am still reading Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening as a daily meditation. Today’s entry was very profound to me and reflective of my 2011 journey. The essay talks about a woman who found a hardened sponge and walked out into the ocean. She let the sponge soak up the salt water and watched as the sponge unfolded and a fish came alive and swam out to sea. The secret of life, as Mark Nepo writes, is to awaken and free what has been asleep. It really is too beautiful to summarize so here goes:

Everything remains hard and compressed and illegible until, like this woman, waist deep in the ocean, we take our sleeping heart in our hands and plunge it tenderly into the life we are living – Mark Nepo

A big focus for 2012 is to keep finding ways to open my heart and  be aware and present everyday. I want my heart to soften like the sponge in the salt water. I want the peace and joy of a soul unencumbered by anything hard or compressed.

Goodnight 🙂

No Two Alike

The soul walks not upon a line, neither does it grow like a reed.
The soul unfolds itself, like a lotus of countless petals.

Kahlil Gibran

It is almost the end of 2011. The anniversary of this blog project is near and I have been reflecting on my journey this last year for the last couple of days. This time last year, I was alone and reeling with the realization that I had been asleep for too long. I had closed the door of my heart and was filled with regret of wasted days. I made a committment to spend the next year breaking down my walls, being present and finding a way to love and accept my authentic self. I made a commitment to document the process here.

The future is no place to place your better days.  ~Dave Matthews

I did not accomplish complete enlightenment, acceptance or watch all my dreams come true. I did, however, gain awareness, compassion for myself and get the chance to see some dreams come true. I removed most of the bricks from around my heart and gave it the opportunity to breathe again. I looked long and hard at the obstacles I had placed in my own path and did my best to not turn away. I allowed myself to be broken and found a way to shine a light on those shattered bits. In the light I discovered that the pieces still fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. With the love and support of the people around me, I was able to put most of myself back together again.

Pile up too many tomorrows and you’ll find that you’ve collected nothing but a bunch of empty yesterdays.  ~The Music Man

I learned that I am harder on myself than anyone else is. I took on other people’s version of the truth about myself, instead of ascribing to my own. I let old heartbreak and rejection dictate my present happiness. I realized I didn’t have to give it any power to hurt me anymore. I haven’t completely recovered from that old hurt, but I’m re-learning how to be brave and ask for what I need.

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.  ~Jan Glidewell

I’ve decided to keep writing this blog and continue my committment to this process. I couldn’t have dreamed all the ways that I would change in these last twelve months. My life is so different. I am different. I am better. I am not the same. I have come to something deep inside that had been forgotten. I am excited to continue to grow and see what 2012 has in store for me. There were some dark days in 2011, I don’t want to paint this pristine picture, but peaks and valleys are the reality of life. As a friend of mine reminded me before Christmas, You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you find you get what you need.

I found that I do get what I need. I get above what I need. 2011 was a year of tested faith, surrender, vulnerability, learning and grace. I sit here, writing this, blessed in ways I didn’t know were possible when I started this blog a year ago. I have moments of distrust, in fact I had a bout of it yesterday morning but it didn’t derail me like it used to. I am chipping away at changing out-dated patterns and habits that don’t serve the real me.  I still have work to do, yet my burden isn’t so heavy.

Your life is an occasion. Rise to it. – Mr. Edward Magorium

I am proud of this last year. I am pleased that I put myself in situations that made me uncomfortable and pushed me to my limits. I am satisfied that I made decisions that supported my good, instead of continuing to treat myself with unkindness and expect different results. I learned that I can’t run on empty emotionally, spiritually or physically anymore. I learned that changing the way I eat makes me feel whole again. Trusting my instincts and listening to my own voice fills me with peace. Not apologizing for who I am and embracing my light and dark sides is what I have needed for a long time. I am more prepared to love another since I have started to love and care for myself.

Pick the day. Enjoy it – to the hilt. The day as it comes. People as they come… The past, I think, has helped me appreciate the present – and I don’t want to spoil any of it by fretting about the future. – Audrey Hepburn

Snowflakes are a major symbol in my book The Christmas Child. Snowflakes are unique, like a human fingerprint. I have learned this last year that I am unique and that is fine. I don’t need to live my life under any one else’s direction or idea of what is right. I am here for a specific purpose and my life will unfold the way it is meant to. I don’t need to worry about not being married or being a mother or a famous writer…those things might be headed my way some day, but as I’ve learned though this project imposing my expectations doesn’t change the outcome of my experiences, it only leads to disappointment. When I allow my life bloom in its natural way and be present in the process, I discover that I am pleasantly surprised with what happens.

In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time. – Leonardo da Vinci

I want to thank the friends who have supported me through this year. You have helped me move literally and figuratively into a new way of life. You have listened and inspired me. I am a lucky girl! I want to thank those of you who have read these posts and taken this journey with me. It hasn’t been easy to be open and I have a hard time being vulnerable. I’ve done my best to show you my mess and I appreciate the love.  I want to end this crazy long post with the lyrics to a song I wrote this year. I found the lyrics a couple of days ago and it showcases where I have come from and where I am heading.

I took the padlock off my heart

Looking for a brand new start

Forgiveness

Not sure where to begin

Gather up what I’ve been given

Try to heal

Crawled inside and looked around

Amazed at what I found

Dejected

Swept the cobwebs aside

No longer desire to hide

My pain

I will love again

This has turned into something more

You’ve opened up the door

Embraced me

Smiles lead the way

To trust and what may

Allowing

I will love again

Can’t know what will happen

How the story will end

But this tree won’t break in the wind

Anymore

Not sure what it means

If it means anything

At all

But I’m walking down the road

Toward the horizon with hope

Eyes open

I will love again

Took the padlock off my heart

Looking for a brand new start

Today

Happy New Year everyone. Here’s to a beautiful year ahead.

Trick of the Light

One thing I will say about being a teacher: time is slipping away even more than it used to. I can’t believe it’s November. I’m not sure where the days go.

Things are good. I know I am in the right place because today was a long, super busy day with an intense IEP meeting and a three-hour training after school and somehow I am still happier and more content than I have ever been. I feel very lucky that I get to work with one of my best friend (even though I don’t see her as often as you’d expect) and a handful of awesome teachers that make me laugh until I cry everyday. Especially, the other special ed teacher, I think I can handle the pressure of the job so much better because we don’t take ourselves or each other too seriously. It makes all the difference.

I am torn because I feel like I have been slacking for this project. I’m still working on myself and staying present, but haven’t had much time to work on any specific projects lately. That said, I’m still progressing in big ways.  I haven’t been this comfortable in my own skin in close to ten years. I am accepting myself and taking better care of myself than I have in a long time. I am being honest and presenting my authentic self in all situations and not censoring or hiding anymore. Again, it makes all the difference.

At the beginning of this project, I felt like I was pretending. Trying to trick myself into believing that I mattered or using all the tools in the box to keep myself in the present, but I can honestly say that now the tricks are unnecessary. I have changed. I have grown. I still daydream and think about the future or the past, but I am in the moment so much more than I ever thought possible. I am living in my body again, not just in terms of exercising more, but really living centered in my body – my bones.

Since I am less in my head and more balanced in my body, soul, heart and spirit – I am also losing weight. I haven’t been weighing myself much but my clothes are fitting looser and the people around me are noticing a difference. I know I have lost at least 15 pounds. It isn’t a ton, but it is a big step in the right direction. I am also not feeling compelled to over eat, which is such a gift. I was concerned about living alone again because this was such a big issue in the past. However, I am not finding it an issue at all. I am not eating perfect all the time, but most of the time I am making my own meals and eating healthy. I am paying attention to my actual hunger signals and not just eating out of boredom or loneliness.

I am going to brainstorm a couple of things I want to tackle before the end of the year to make sure this project ends on a successful note. I will let you know what I come up with.

Thanks for listening and following me on this journey.

Good night.

The Sausage King of Chicago

I normally want to begin with one of my own images, but since Abe Froman was the inspiration for our winning night at Trivia last night, I thought this was appropriate.

It’s been a pretty good week so far. School hasn’t been quite as crazy as last week. I have been exercising almost everyday. There is a beautiful lake at my apartment complex and I’ve enjoyed walking around it, looking at the beautiful leaves and enjoying the crisp air.

The last couple of days have been some of my best teaching days as well. I think I am feeling a greater sense of confidence in so many areas of my life. One of the many blessings of this project has been learning how to be present in my own skin. There are still things that bother me about myself, but the scale is tipping more toward acceptance these days. I know I still have a ways to go, but I feel closer to being whole than I have in many, many years.

Tonight, I came home from my walk and made a pretty snazzy dinner for myself. I had leeks that needed cooked and I found a new recipe online. It didn’t turn out to be super tasty, but I tried something new. At least I’m cooking for myself. I was really bad about cooking when I lived alone before. I would mainly eat microwave dinners or fast food – lots of junk.

Eating pretty healthy most of the time is helping my energy level and body. I am noticing that I am getting smaller as well. Not anything to big, but my clothes are fitting looser. I wore a leather jacket last weekend that wouldn’t zip last fall. I also have more work to do with my body image issues, yet I know that I couldn’t have put myself out there like I did on Saturday night without all this work. That wouldn’t have been a reality even a couple of months ago.

I am going to continue to be open to all of this. All the changes, all the shifting – literally and figuratively.

I am also going to continue having fun, being silly, laughing and being authentic.

Danke Schoen and goodnight.

The End of the War

Norbert Rosing – National Geographic

I’ve been nudged toward teaching for a long time now. For years, I skirted the issue, thinking that I could never be happy in a classroom when I was told what and how to teach. I’m still don’t like the idea of being told how or what to teach, but I’ve learned that teaching is what I’ve been put on this earth to do. I love writing books and songs, and I feel I was put here to do that too. But my storytelling is really another form of teaching.

As I write this, it seems egotistical, like Look at me, I’m so smart, but that’s not it at all. I learn just as much, if not more from the students. I am a lifelong student. The world is my classroom. This blog is a class.  My life is one long (I hope) journey of discovery and as I learned today, there is grace and divinity even in the times when I am the most frustrated and confused.

This man I mentioned, who told me I should teach said that I had a natural, nurturing side that wants to help others, but my brand of helping is to teach people how to do for themselves. I thought that was true and wondered how he could possibly know so much about me.

One of my best friends was at a coaching workshop this last week, and he brought this up to me as well. He said, “I want to fix it, you want to help people see it and fix it on their own.” I thought about life coaching about five years ago when I still believed I wouldn’t be happy in a classroom, but I backed away from that idea too because I felt I had no right coaching people when my own life was such a mess.

I’m learning that I end up being a teacher or a coach, even when I don’t mean to. Despite myself.

This summer has been difficult. Not letting myself go to a negative place about the possibility of not getting a job. I try to turn it around, but in so many quiet moments, I know I’m making myself feel miserable and trying to pin it back on me. Your resume isn’t good enough, you don’t have enough connections…The irony of it all is that I ran away from my path for so many years and now I want it more than anything and it’s just outside of my grasp.

However, I was the student today. I learned that I am a teacher, whether I get a job or not. I learn as much as I can everyday and try to make sense of it. Even as I struggle to make sense of it, someone else is learning from my experience and finding peace with themselves. Then I learn an even bigger lesson. That’s the beauty of teaching. The brilliance of being present and aware.

This peace may be fleeting, but I have a feeling that things will work out. I may not get a job in August or I might have so many offers that I won’t know how to pick. I might finish my degree and then try to teach internationally. I do know without a shadow of a doubt that I am doing what I’m here to do and I have one very special person to thank for that today.

Thank you for reminding me that the war can be over, if I want it to be.

Shame On You

Shame – noun

The painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another: She was overcome with shame.
       I’ve never really thought much about shame until this week. I understood what shame meant, but in a distant arm’s length way. Like stealing or lying were actions to  be ashamed of, stuff like that.  This week I have come to understand shame in a new, personal way. I feel that the book The Gift of Imperfection  has been a gift. I’m learning about belonging and my quest and sabotage of love in my life.
       According to Brene Brown, shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging. This definition of shame rings true. I have been experiencing deep shame for a long time. She goes on to explain that shame keeps our worthiness away because we’re afraid that people won’t like us if they know the truth about who we are or even if they realize how wonderful we are – sometimes, she adds, it’s just as hard to own our strengths as our struggles.
      Wow.
       I have been thinking about how, since the fifth grade, I have been comparing myself to everyone around me and measuring myself in a constant battle of okay/not okay. My lips are nice and I have soft hair, but my stomach is too flabby and skin hangs over my elbow unless it’s extended…I could go on and on. I am now seeing that this is shame. Shame and fear preventing me from ever seeing or experiencing my truth.
       I think understanding shame and learning how to break out of this shame cycle will be a huge leap for me. I feel like the light has been flipped on finally. Shame, who knew? I’m excited to keep reading and applying this gift of a book in my life.
       Also, I have not crumpled under the pressure of my online profile. I’ve even made contact with someone, which is still scary and I’m trying not to retreat back into my shell. I actually think I will be reactivating another profile soon. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe today.
       I watched an awesome speech by Bill Cosby this morning, that was funny and touching about being authentic and not falling into the shame that is beneath you. It’s a bit long, but worth watching if you have time. You can link to the video here.

Breaking New Ground

I can’t believe it’s already July. I applied for a handful of new jobs today. I’ve been a bit frustrated lately, but I had to remind myself today that I am doing all I can do. I must have faith that I will wind up in the right spot.

I’ve also been reading The Gift of Imperfection and enjoying it a lot. I just started the chapter on worthiness and I’m hoping to find some helpful strategies. Even though I’m still working through feeling worthy right now, I’m feeling the fear and doing it any way.

I have been online and have been brave. It’s funny because the site I am on makes you message people before you can complete your profile. I am being pushed by the Universe and a computer program to step outside my comfort zone.

I’m also going to reactivate my profile on another site, mainly because I need to give this a shot and I am less busy this summer than I will be in the fall. It’s a good time for me to give this a try.

I met with a friend for breakfast yesterday who told me that she had recently read through my old blog posts and said it was fun to see my growth.  It’s harder for me to see it as an outsider might, but that’s one of the reason why I wanted to do this blog. It keeps me honest but it also serves as a record of all of this as well. I’m excited to sit and look back over a whole year of my life once this is over.

I know that it will never really be over, not for me. I am always growing and that’s a good thing.

Brene Brown writes, Belonging is the innate human desire to be part of something larger than us. Because this yearning is so primal, we often try to acquire it by fitting in and by seeking approval, which are not only hollow substitutes for belonging, but often barriers to it. Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

I am working toward truly belonging and presenting my authentic self to the world.

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