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The free time conundrum

22 Jul

Once upon a time I was quite skilled at balancing out my free time and my work time. I took yoga classes, volunteered, painted, meditated, socialized, exercised, blogged, and rested. Somehow I have gotten into this rut of either 1. working 2. doing house projects or 3. lazing around. There really hasn’t been much in between. So after many weekends devoted to house projects and finally reaching what my husband calls “the end of the internet” (i.e., there’s nothing good to watch on Netflix) I declared that this past weekend was for relaxing and adventuring, but then we didn’t actually know what to do. What is that?! barney I know it makes sense. For years I worked several jobs without a lot of free time and then when I started running my practice full time, there was ALWAYS something extra to do. Also, we bought a house a couple of years ago and there’s always some project to work on. And I do get out sometimes. I see my friends, I go to yoga once a week, I still knit like a fool, I read books. But when it comes to a long, free weekend day? I’m at a total loss. Pooh So here’s the thing. We have a baby on the way in a few months (more on that later and yes, I’m thrilled and it has been and will continue to be a roller coaster, I am sure!).  I don’t want to waste my precious free time for it will certainly be taken over by the little one! So I’m getting back to basics to make sure I actually get out and about to do enjoyable things. So every free weekend (sometimes we have family in town or we are going out of town), I want to try something new. I also want to get back to making Sunday recipes. That’s it! Here are some of my ideas:

  • Go berry picking
  • Hike in a new place (an easy hike for me, please!)
  • Take Radar to the beach
  • Paint a picture for the baby’s room
  • Go to a new farmer’s market
  • Get a massage
  • Blog instead of wasting time on Facebook and other sites (yes, I’d rather waste time blogging!)

So that’s it for now!

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So hard to do the things I know I should do

14 Jul

In the mental health field we love that joke about not shoulding on yourself, meaning don’t harass yourself with self talk about what you should and shouldn’t do.  Yet that is precisely what I do-  I should do this, I shouldn’t do that, should, shouldn’t. should, shouldn’t. should.  shouldn’t.  SHOULD. SHOULDN’T.  SHOULD!  SHOULDN’T! 

Gross, huh.

Even though it’s been a month since I lost the baby, I’m a bit of a mess.  I stay up too late, forget to eat, then eat lots of crappy stuff, and lately I’ve been working way too much.  I often stay in the office until my brain shuts down in an effort to avoid free time.  Something I used to love and savor so much has become something I dread: free time usually means crying and moping.  Running my own business, I have no boss so it isn’t like someone stands in my doorway and says “your last client was 2 hours ago.  Why are you still here?”   Nope, it’s just me so I piddle away, listening to music, reorganizing my files and concocting new projects to occupy my mind.

So many of the shoulds are things that truly will help me feel better- eat more veggies, get more exercise, go outside more often, walk the dogs, lay off the coffee, lay off the sugar, for god’s sake PUT DOWN THE WINE, and so on.  But I just don’t do it.  Admittedly, there’s a part of me that really doesn’t want to.  In the moment I enjoy the chocolate, the wine, the coffee, and the 4 consecutive episodes of True Blood.  Also, part of me feels that I deserve to feel like crap and rush through each day like I’m white knuckling it on the interstate during rush hour traffic with only 1/8th of a tank of gas.  I don’t have much reason to treat my body like a temple right now. After all, it feels like my body betrayed me and because of that I had to give up one of the most meaningful dreams I’m ever had- the dream of being a mother.  I know it may still happen, but like I’ve written before, that dream feels far off.  Like, really, really far off.  I know, I see how irrational I am.  I know I’ll feel better if I take care of myself, I know I’ll be in better health both physically and mentally but it all seems really… really… annoying and difficult and stupid right now.  I should…. I should… I should…. 

I’m doing this big training for work all next week.  It is a two year training intensive so it is like being in school all over again.  Prior to the in-person training, I was to complete an online portion.  Wouldn’t you know I put most of it off until….um….yesterday.  I have to give myself some slack though, I planned to do mostof it this past month and well, things got a little crazy this last month.  So yesterday I stayed up late working on the online training and got right back to it this morning.  I was determined and when it was finally completed all of this dread and irritation washed over to me.  How odd, right?  I was so ready to be DONE with work and then when I was, I just couldn’t think straight.  I told my husband, very clearly, that he HAD to pick something for us to do, that I am incapable of making decisions in my free time because everything seems kind of pointless and annoying.  “Just pick something, I’ll go along with it and then I’ll be fine,” I told him.  Usually I’m pretty bossy and picky about just about everything, so this probably seem extremely exciting for Q, except that I’m probably rather scary to him these days.

Godzilla

In case you wonder what I look like in real life! I admit that this isn’t a great photograph.

We managed to keep our cool (I’m so luck to have such a nice husband, because I’ve been acting really crazy lately.  Thanks hormones and grief!  What a combo!) and came up with a plan to take our dogs to a K9 FUN ZONE where we threw dog toys and chased the dogs around for an hour.  It was fun and exhausting for all.  That was followed by a walk, some sushi and then a visit from a dear friend, so I am feeling better now.

So this next week will probably be pretty hectic, which I admit is what I prefer these days.  I recently decided to change offices and billers and conveniently both of these tasks have proven to be quite time consuming and attention consuming.  It’s a blessing to love my work and it helps to find things to keep me busy, but I’m also aware that I’m keeping myself occupied as a way to avoid what I’m really feeling.

I’m going to keep trying, bit by bit, to take good care of myself.  The shoulds don’t really help, they just make me feel worse and more frustrated.  Eventually I will make it back to a yoga class and start cooking again.  Also, this week’s training might help because I’ll be by the water and much of the training is about mindfulness.  It might actually be beneficial to get out of the office and away from the overworking habits.  In the meantime, I’ll look at some pictures of corgis and maybe go see the new Guillermo del Toro movie.

It’s all gonna be okay.

The lady at the restaurant

8 Jul

We went out for dinner last night.  Q has been on call and much of his day was spent dealing with some mess while typing away on his laptop. I worked for hours in the garden, pulling weeds and even planting some new things.  So after he was finally done working and I was cleaned up, we decided cooking was not an option, so we went out.

We ate at a nice neighborhood restaurant.  We got a table outside and enjoyed our drinks while we waited for our food. The food was fabulous, by the way.  All of it was lovely until the hostess sat a family of four right next to us.  Like 2 feet away from us.   Cute kids, normal looking parents, but let me declare, THE MOST ANNOYING MOTHER IN THE WORLD.

Okay,  I know.  I’m in no state to be judging parents.  Just the fact that parents ARE parents is a sore spot for me right now.  But I am sure that even in a more normal and serene state of mind, this woman would have made me bonkers.  For those of you who know me in person, you know that fake mother voice I put on, right?  With the midwest accent and I say things like “Oh!  You better not be doin’ the marijuana, Billy!”  That voice.  It’s a lot like Kitty from That 70’s Show, except so much worse.

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Anyway, that’s how this woman spoke.  And one of her kids was WAY too young to be in a kind of nice restaurant.  He needed to be at Red Robin or something.  He hated everything and yelled and was overall really annoying.  And the husband was silent.   I tried to ignore and look away, but we couldn’t help but hear her lecture her small children on how they HAVE to have full body wet suits on their upcoming trip to Hawaii because without them, they’ll get too cold.

Anyway.  Yes, she was annoying but it wasn’t like she was hitting her kids in front of us or anything.  She was just annoying.  Kind of funny that just a few hours after posting about letting go of resentment, I dealt with just that.  Resentment. Lots of it.  I mean, I’m sure I’d be an annoying mom in a lot of ways.  But I’d be a cool mom too.  I couldn’t help but think of one of the many teens I’ve worked with who said “You’d be the cool mom, like really fun but strict at the same time.”  It was a huge compliment and at the time, I hoped someday that would be true.  Now I feel so discouraged and dark that I can’t help but just be pissed at the world that the annoying lady with the ugly sandals and a desire to cover her children in neoprene while vacationing in a tropical paradise, that SHE gets to have these cute healthy kids.  And also, that I have to hear her crap when I’m trying to enjoy my dinner and fill my babyless abdominal area with a fancy glass of Pinot. No!  I can’t enjoy it!  I have to hear her shrill voice saying “That’s not nice!”…  “Oh but the aquarium was fun!”…. “But you liked alfredo sauce last time!  It’s the creamy kind!”

Angry cat

Yeah so that’s me.  Angry.  Bitter.  Same old stuff.

I feel rather crazy some minutes, some hours, some days.  Truthfully I am a bit afraid that I’m going to stay like this forever.  Really,  know I won’t and this moodiness and grumpiness and sharp bursts of anger are all part of the process.  But I’m still scared that I’ll be the grumpy cat forever.  My humor is getting darker and darker, I’m bitter about so many things right now, and I even listened to TWO Nine Inch Nails albums today.  What is that?!  I haven’t done such a thing since I was an angsty seventeen year old.

This is the tough thing with loss- we are crazy when we lose something.  It is hard as hell and it hurts.  Loss comes with a lot of hard to feel emotions- sadness and anger and guilt… we feel it drag us down but at the same time we’re changing and adjusting to the absence of what we once had and what we once loved.  Evolving in that way is hard but the alternative is to not evolve.  I don’t understand how I couldn’t change after going through a miscarriage, so then I’d have to be living in a world of denial.   The desire to avoid all of these emotions is understandable because it is not fun to feel this way.  But this is the way through it and I just gotta keep going.  Every so often, I get a glimpse of how this awful time will make me a stronger person.  It may even help me to better serve others.  But most of all, I’m just doing whatever I can to get through it.  That’s really the main reason I write here, I’m just trying to deal with it.

“Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue.  Realize the strength.  Move on.”  -Henry Rollins

cw.henry.rollins

Okay, Henry.  I’ll try.

Depression, you big old jerk

3 Jul

My husband and I went on a camping trip just a few days after my miscarriage.  We figured that a few nights of fresh air by the ocean would do us some good.  Plus, we adore our ridiculous dogs and they really put on shows of special silliness at the beach.  But after just a few hours at our camp spot and just a couple of walks on the beach, we realized that our dog Radar was very bloated and sick.  To give a bit of history, Radar had a pretty major and shockingly expensive stomach surgery as a puppy so we are hyper aware of his stomach and all things that go in and out of it (yes, you dog owners know what I mean).  So seeing him bloated like Cool Hand Luke and actually hearing his tummy gurgling caused some concern.  It was a Sunday on the coast, and we worried that we’d have to go to Aberdeen, Kurt Cobain’s crusty home town, to find medical care for our pup.  So we drove all the way back home.  Yep.  We did.

I felt pretty intensely that if something happened to Radar I. would. not. deal.  I’m not sure what that means, maybe that I’d get in bed and not get out for days, or I’d have crying and screaming fits for weeks on end.  Whatever my overblown and dramatic reaction, I just knew that if my little pup fell apart that I would fall apart right with him.  I told my husband “I just don’t have the capacity to deal with it.  Plus, I need him.”  Q is a good man, most would be offended by my close relationship with Radar, preferring that I cuddle in his manly arms instead of with some stinky dog that just came in from rolling around in the dirt.  Radar’s a good boy, he’s sweet and he’s blind.  He’s attached to me and follows my voice around.  He laid around in bed with me after my surgery and licked the tears off of my face.  He was a huge comfort at that time and  besides, he’s been the object of my maternal energies for several years.  If I can’t have a real baby, I sure can’t lose my dog baby.

Radar at the beach

Radar at the beach

Now I feel guilty and should add that I TOTALLY LOVE MY OTHER DOG TOO!  She’s a total badass and really strong and pretty.  She’s well trained and extremely friendly.  She is a great cuddler and I love torturing her by flying our kite, which makes her jump like a dolphin.  She’s really smart and is an excellent guard dog.  I love her too, see?!

Sleepy Sasha after a long day at the beach

Sleepy Sasha after a long day at the beach

Okay, now that I have that out of my system.  Radar was fine, by the way.  He drank too much saltwater like a dummy.  He was fine after he peed all over the vet hospital and several vet technicians at 10 at night, for which we paid several hundred dollars.  Ah, life.

So after that a few other stressful things happened, regular ol’ life stresses, that caused me to just crumple.  At one point, I was laying in bed with my head under the blanket.  I said to my husband “I can’t do it.  I hate my life. It sucks.” and sounded much like the teenagers I spend hours of each week counseling.  Luckily, I soon got out of bed and we got on with it and spent the day doing enjoyable things (lately this has involved a lot of gardening and drinking wine).  But I know the symptoms and I know how they creep up- the apathy, the doubts, the defeating thoughts.  Ah, depression.  There you are, you big old jerk.

I researched anti-depressants and then talked to my therapist about not wanting to be depressed.  I’ve seen my therapist for over a year, mainly for general support since I work in the same field and like to keep myself on track emotionally. She reminded me that it’s only been 3 weeks and said “see how it feels in 3 months”.  I told her what I’ve been doing to take care of myself including trying to exercise, cutting out most processed foods and sugars, and talking to friends and loved ones.  Also I’ve been planning a big trip for this winter and making plans to move offices.  I’m actually focusing on some things I’ve wanted to do for a long time which feels kind of good.  I don’t think I will actually become full-blown depressed, but I can easily grasp how it can happen.  It’s a bit dramatic, but it’s kind of like I’m standing on the beach watching a huge wave coming in.  I can easily see myself getting trapped under it, and then all the damage it will do to everything around me: my marriage, my relationships, my career and my health.  I need to remember that the best way to let that wave wreak its havoc is to avoid the pain I’m experiencing.  Instead, by feeling it and dealing with it, I’m a lot more likely to get through this intact.

I googled “miscarriage and depression” and found this article  from Psychology Today.  It points out that women who have had miscarriages are at high risk for depression, especially if they have had depression before (yes) and if depression runs in the family (boom).  The recommendations for getting through it include supportive counseling and then simply letting time pass.  When I read that, I thought “what, that’s it?!”  Feeling very sad and hopeless, common symptoms of depression, makes sense after losing a pregnancy.  It certainly doesn’t help that the loss is one that’s traditionally been deal with privately so it feels very isolating and even shaming.  But if the symptoms last for a long time and/or they begin to interfere with relationships and work, then it could be time to get more help.  It is a comfort to know that with time, I’ll most likely start to feel better.  I can already see how much better I am doing after just a few weeks.  For a while, I couldn’t handle being alone without becoming completely overwhelmed.  Now I’m back to kind of my old self, where I like being alone and don’t feel stressed out by it.

We get a lot of feedback about how crying, sadness, and grief are things that should be hidden, but that really only makes it worse.  I hope everyone out there can find the support they need for this kind of loss, whether it is through a trusted friend, a counselor, an online forum, or other things.  I’m grateful for therapists.  It is the field in which I chose to work but I’ve noticed that my therapist friends and my own therapist have been immensely comforting during this time.  It is so helpful to be reminded that it is okay to feel sad and to cry, even in severe and unattractive (snotty) ways.  I know all of these things, but somehow when I’m on the other side of it, it can be easy to forget.

Life after miscarriage

2 Jul

I’m in my mid-thirties.  Due to career ambitions and other practical, responsible reasons we waited a long time to try to start a family.  It’s a lot like that movie, Idiocracy, a film of pure genius that is quoted regularly in our household. (“Brawndo!  It’s got what plants crave!”)

Just like the smart couple in that movie, we waited a long time (too long? ) and ran into some issues getting pregnant.  To spare you too many boring and embarrassing details, we hit the mark that results in the label INFERTILITY.  I didn’t want to go on freaky hormonal treatments due to my hippie dippy ways and my long history of issues with hormonal birth control.  Instead I tried acupuncture and Chinese herbs and after a few months of regular treatments, I became pregnant.  We were overjoyed.  I felt sick and grumpy and nearly fell asleep at work on several occasions.  I had strange food cravings and even stranger aversions (broccoli has never seemed so gross).  But it was awesome.  I was SO excited.  Writing all of this out is really starting to feel like TMI and I am wincing at the screen, but I’m determined to write all of this out for those of you out there who might be going through the same thing, or something similar, or you care for someone who has had this kind of loss.

At 8 weeks, I had my first ultrasound and saw a little bean with a heartbeat.  It was one of the very coolest moments ever.  I’d often go to sleep thinking about that little baby growing inside.  I’d send him nice thoughts and imagine what it would be like as he continued his growth.  While I feel very connected to various family members and friends and also to my pets, that kind of connection was very special and like nothing I’ve encountered before.  I can’t really explain it, but I imagine that everyone out there who has grown a little baby knows exactly what I mean.

At 13 weeks, we went in for another ultrasound.  My husband Q wasn’t around for the first one so it would be his first time seeing the baby.  Since I’m at the dreaded and ancient age of 35, this ultrasound was at a different clinic and served as part of a screening for various genetic nightmares and heartbreaks that could occur.  Needless to say, I was a ball of nerves and nearly jumping out of my skin.

Turns out my nervousness was fitting.  Instead of the ultrasound technician showing me exciting things, she just pointed out the two sides of my uterus (snore) and then asked me to go to the bathroom “so we could see more”.  I had too pee so badly that I didn’t even question that.  By the way, making someone who is pregnant wait for a long time for an ultrasound is really mean, as you’re supposed to arrive with a full bladder.

The rest unfolded like a nightmare.  After I happily emptied my bladder I returned to the room where Q and I waited for a few silent minutes.  The technician returned with the doctor, who told me that she saw some “really concerning” things including that the baby had no heartbeat and hadn’t grown past 8 weeks.  Um, yeah, I still think “concerning” wasn’t quite the right word to use there, doc.   This was compounded by the fact that this isn’t my normal doctor’s office and they didn’t seem to have any of my information about how far along I should have been.  They didn’t tell me anything more  and said I could follow up with my regular doctor.  In retrospect, that seems pretty weird.  The technician left me with a giant box of wipes that were essentially giant kleenexes.  I imagine they are for wiping that ultrasound goo off of your belly, but for me they were for full face sobbing and snotting.  I was kind of a basket case.

We found the back way out of that horrible building full of happy pregnant women.  (Curse them!)  I told my husband that I’m never trying to get pregnant again, that I can’t deal with it and it is too sad.  I dreaded the idea of more medical appointments, more disappointing and stupid periods and more bitterness about everyone in the world having babies all over the place.  Even at the time I realized that was a bit silly to close up my womb since I had about 5 minutes of processing what had just happened.

I got home and called one of my closest friends who had a miscarriage several years ago.  We had  a talk that was helpful but very painful.  It was immensely comforting that she knew exactly what I was going through, although heartbreaking because I hate it that other people have been through something this awful.  She advised me, strongly, to get off the phone and call my doctor’s office and demand to be seen immediately.  She also recommended, based on her own experience and of other women she’s known, to get a D&C rather than wait to miscarry or take those pills that force you to miscarry.  I did just that and by 9 am the next morning, I was sobbing in the doctor’s office while they scheduled a surgery for me that evening.  I could have had it that morning, but I’d eaten a damn banana prior to my appointment so I had to hang out ALL DAY and wait to digest it so I could go in for surgery.  So I spent the whole day not drinking, not eating and cursing that stupid banana.

It has been 3 weeks since my surgery.  My body is starting to feel more normal and I’m sleeping well again.  I cry a lot.  I’ve find a lot of comfort in talking to other women who have had miscarriages because they know what it is like.  I can look directly at children again, strangely for the first week or so after the miscarriage I could not even do that because it was too painful.  My husband and I are talking a lot about different things and we planned a trip to Mexico for this winter, the same time the baby bean would have been born.  I have no idea if we’ll keep trying to get pregnant, or if we’ll let Idiocracy happen (haha, ugh, really it isn’t like we’re THAT smart).  Besides, my doctor recommended waiting a few months to let my body heal so we have time to figure it out.

Basically, the whole deal sucks.  We were preparing to be parents.  I was thinking of colors to paint the walls of the spare bedroom and my mom and I were talking about cribs.  We’d picked out baby names.  I ate lots of ice cream.  We passed the 12 week mark so we told all of our friends and family.  Then the next day, it was all over and everything changed.  That shift in mentality has been one of the hardest things and I don’t think I’ll ever really be the same because of it.  For just a few months, I really did feel like a mother and then I had to say goodbye to all of that hope.  It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever had to do.

In my internet searches I found some helpful blogs about miscarriages, but not too many.  Many of them were written by very serious bloggers who went on to have kids so their miscarriage seems like a blip in the craziness of their depicted lives of daycare and diapers.  I just don’t have the objectiveness to allow that kind of wide view and would like to write just about miscarriages, especially for those who miscarried during their first pregnancy.  I’ve written blogs before and usually life happens and I forget to update them.  I imagine someday that will happen to this one, which means I will have moved forward as much as one can with loss.  But for now, here I am.

Inspiration

23 Feb

JKZI’ve been working.  There’s been some procrastination.  I’ve been hanging with dogs.  I’ve been walking.  I’ve been drinking lots and lots of tea.

What else?  Sleeping.  Reading.  Talking.  Enjoying visits from dear family members.  Doing weekly acupuncture.  Drinking weird herbs twice a day.  I bought a new chair for my office, which some of my clients call my “throne” (I love that, it makes me laugh).  I’m working on a new business website, which is surprisingly time consuming and thankfully I’m being helped by folks much better at such things than I! I’m still trying to stay off facebook, but sometimes I habitually just log in to it.  I quickly realize I’m not missing much.

I’ve been thinking a lot about life in its present form, as well as things that have happened in my past.  It feels like peeling away the layers, which is good although it is sometimes painful to face the truth that I miss some people and probably always will.

I’m trying to stay inspired, informed, and excited.  Sometimes I become very thrilled or extremely nervous when thinking about what I want to DO and ACCOMPLISH and how things will BE in the future.  When that wears me out I try to remember to just be in the present.  Just do one thing at a time.  Just take it step by step. Just breathe!  All that good stuff.

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Don’t pull me off of the monkey bars

11 Feb
Stairs

I took this picture during a ceremony in Bali- flower petals on the stairs.

As part of my project, I’m working on a regular meditation and mindfulness practice.  Some mornings I sit in silence and look out the window.  Other mornings I practice a more formal meditation.  It is very peaceful.  The dogs and the cat sit with me and it is very quiet and still.  It is the only time I ever really open the blinds in the bedroom to see the trees in the side yard and it feels like a treat.  This morning I chose a meditation off of yogaglo, a website to which I subscribe that offers various yoga and meditation classes.  It has a great variety of classes and is sometimes the best I can do when I can’t make it to a regular yoga class; between walking dogs, running my business, and trying to spend time with my family, regular yoga class hasn’t happened in a while.  I especially enjoy Harshada Wagener’s meditations on the site.  He has a very warm and practical approach.

Today I did a short meditation about Transition.  I have done this one before, months ago when I was preparing to leave my full time agency job, where I worked as a child & family therapist.  It was hard- I was saying goodbye to clients, co-workers and also a regular, structured life that offered a predictable schedule and paycheck.  I decided to do the meditation again today simply because I’ve been thinking about the challenges we often encounter in the face of change.  I’m not going through any huge changes lately but part of my job as a therapist is to help people deal with change.  And I am trying to implement changes into my life, which is also very hard!

Sometimes we are forced to change due to circumstances and changes around us.  Other times, we may attempt to initiate changes ourselves because we recognize behavioral patterns that are not serving us well.  While it may be relevant to note when we have control over changes or not, these things really don’t seem extremely different.  The changes are still challenging and we will encounter resistance but our future (and present) well being will surely benefit from our resilience in facing, understanding and yes, maintaining such changes.  So this could be about moving to a new town, the end of a relationship, quitting smoking, implementing a regular exercise program.

Bowie

Ch…ch…ch…changes!

It is no secret that change is hard.  However, it is also inevitable.  Whether we like it or not- things change.  And sometimes we may benefit from change.  There are many theories about change.  Spiritual traditions bring forward examples and rituals to assist during changes.  Praying, meditating, reflecting on the big picture, seeking out community- these things all are meant to offer solace and understanding during challenging times of chaos and transition.  When it comes to trying to change our behaviors, neuroscience shows us that change is extremely difficult because our brain functioning can become quite out of balance when we take part on addictive behaviors.  It also shows us that we can very effectively encourage needed changes by understanding how our minds work!

Today’s meditation spoke of the resistance we have to change.  We cling to how things currently are.  The teacher said we do this like a child holding on to the monkey bars while their parents tries to pull them off.  I love that visual as it seems to capture this concept perfectly.

So what can we do to take care of ourselves during times of transition?  And how can we allow ourselves to flow with the change rather than resist?

  • Don’t get caught up.  Recognize that we will act like the kid on the monkey bars at times.  You will cling to the old ways and that is natural, but that isn’t necessarily going to help you.  When you notice that you’re resisting the change and trying to talk yourself into going back to old behaviors, point it out to yourself.  For example “I’m wanting to eat sweets right now because I am so used to eating sweets at night.”  Or “Wow, I’m telling myself about 100 reasons to not exercise right now.”  Recognize that this is NORMAL and that you don’t have to continue to hold on to those monkey bars!  
  • Ask yourself why.  When in a transition or when trying to change things, we often are able to list about 100 reasons why we shouldn’t do something or should do something else.  But ask yourself- why did that behavior exist in the first place? What purpose was is serving?  Be curious about your motivations and the meanings.
  • Write things down.  Get out of your head a little bit, where unhelpful thoughts can sometimes spin out of control.  Write things down to get it out of your head and onto the paper.  Done over time, this can also help reveal thinking patterns.  It is also helpful for insomnia.
  • Set realistic goals.  Are you embarking on too many changes at once?  Are your goals way too lofty?  Talk to others about what you’re doing and get some perspective.  Maybe you have high hopes, but try to let your changes start small and build off of that.  This is certainly one I’ve been realizing with my project!
  • Find some meaning.  Maybe you don’t want to change but something is going on and you have to or need to.  Find some meaning to all of this.  This may be really hard sometimes, but having a bigger picture view is very beneficial.  If something is hard, and then it seems pointless, then why will you keep trying?  If it is hard to do this, consider talking to a friend or a counselor.  Read some books.  Meditate.  Get curious.  Reach out.  Even the most difficult things have meaning.  It doesn’t mean it is fair, just or reasonable.  But we know that life isn’t either- it is mysterious and oftentimes confusing.  It can be the most painful struggles that really help shape who we are as people.
  • Reward yourself.  Treat yourself when you have small successes.  This will reinforce your hard work!  It also gives you a reason to keep trying.
  • Don’t give up.  I would be remiss to not mention the stages of change, often referred to in the mental health field and depicted not as a linear line but as a spiral.  It shows us that with change, these are setbacks, relapses and it is not only a forward moving process.  One of my all time favorite sayings is from Krisna Das, who said (my paraphrase from 10+ years ago) “every time you come back to yoga, you come back stronger”.  So we learn from each relapse and each set back and we can reground and recenter more and more each time.

Stages-of-Change

Are you trying to make a change or going through a transition?  What are you doing to move forward?