goodbye, 2015

I’m generally a very sentimental and reflective person but I’m not feeling very sentimental or reflective right now, as I look back on 2015 and prepare for a new year.

It was a good year. Like, one of the best years I’ve ever had. I’ll point out some highs and I’ll point out some lows, and maybe that will get me excited about the promise that 2016 holds.

I was just eating dinner with Jonny and I was talking about some low points I had this year. He pointed out that most of those things were left over from 2014, so they don’t count. For example, I got depressed again in September of 2014 and I didn’t feel like myself again until May of 2015. So the first half of 2015 is sort of a blur of med changes and an all-consuming nothingness. I think my lowest point during those months was one day when I said, “I wish I had never made the decision to not kill myself.” Yeah, I said that. No, I didn’t mean it. Not really. What I really meant was that I was in such a dark place and I wanted to say something to express how low I was feeling. I definitely got my point across and I ended up getting myself some new craft supplies and making cards all day, trying to forgive myself for saying something so harsh.

From May to now, everything was pretty good. I haven’t faced any long spells of depression. I’ve messed up. I had the worst semester in school that I’ve had since I got clean (and nothing to really blame it on). A second low point came on the night of Thanksgiving when some denial I was living in got totally shattered and I had to face some truths about someone I love a whole lot. That was really hard. I tried, I’ll admit, to get back to that place of denial. It didn’t work, and I’m better for it.

There are too many high points to count, and I am so grateful for that. I went to Marfa in May, Little Compton in August, and had some memorable stay-cations where I focused on having fun and letting go of the weight I have felt about the state of the world right now. The world is terrifying and dark and full of injustice, but it is so important to take a break to laugh and have fun.

My job has been really good to me, and I am incredibly grateful for that. I have a boss who cares about who I am as a person, and who cares about my life and my goals. That is a huge gift. I also get to spend a lot of time around flowers (I do flowers for weddings and events). There’s something so cleansing about flowers. I love them, a lot. I have them tattooed all over my body. I definitely feel Ike I am in the right job right now.

Of course, the most validating thing that happened this year was getting a publisher interested in my book. Signing that contract was one of the best moments of my life. I felt known, understood, and accepted. That is the best feeling in the world, I think.

I grew spiritually this year more than I ever have. And in that spiritual growth, I came face to face with old trauma and I decided to accept it. That is an ongoing process, but a path I am glad to be on. My healing coach and I have done so much work together, I feel totally free from the burden of myself, because I am learning to view myself as less of a burden and more of a person.

My recovery has changed and grown as I have changed and grown. I am constantly curious about that path, and the new things shown to me. My relationship with my sponsor is one of trust, respect, and humor. I am so grateful to have her in my life.

I could go on and on. The last things I will mention are: my relationship, the strong women in my life, and my family. All three of these things are among the guiding forces in my life, and all of them have become stronger with time. I don’t think I ever understood how important woman role models are until a few came into my life. I never realized that being treated well, for me, means consistency, communication, and respect. Also, tickles. So many tickles. As I type this, Jonny is trying to get our new snake to eat. It’s hilarious and adorable, and I’m looking at him thinking, “this is it. This is my guy.” And I am very grateful for that.

My family is ridiculous and full of dysfunction. And it makes me who I am today. I at once contribute to and try to distance myself from the dysfunction. In doing that, I learn a lot about who I am, who I was, and who I want to be. My siblings hold up mirrors for me. Their authenticity (or inauthenticity) helps me see where I am authentic or inauthentic. I am very grateful for the big ole’ dysfunctional family I live in.

Judging by the length of this blog post, I suppose I am feeling reflective and sentimental. I’m sorry it was all over the place, I wanted to get this all out of my brain before going to the gym. Also- I started working out on a consistent basis this year and that has been life-changing in more ways than I could have imagined. Anyway, I guess I say all of that to say that this year was a balance of dark and light, growth and stagnation, humor and seriousness. It was a really good year. 2016, here I come.

goodbye, christmas

Every year, Christmas comes. It’s almost like a hurricane. In November, we remember it’s coming. And oh my god, is it coming. Watch out, you better start getting ready, because it is coming and it is going to be big.

We spend months getting ready. This year, I bought my first Christmas present before Thanksgiving. That was a new thing. There’s so much build up. We stock up on supplies– food, candles, Kleenex. We rush around making sure everyone is accounted for and ready for this day that is going to be huge because we said it was going to be huge and we have been waiting and preparing and here it is.

And then it’s gone. I know for sure that I am addicted to excitement, so I get a huge rush from Christmas preparations. However, seeing the frenzy our culture is in during the holidays makes me think that I am not the only one addicted to excitement.

I wait, I hold my breath, I brace myself for the storm, but then it only drizzles. And it’s a pretty calm day. Family time goes well and everyone gets along and the big thing that I was waiting for doesn’t happen. Whatever that big thing was. I’m not sure I even knew in the first place.

Of course, opening presents and making jokes with family is fun, and the five-year-old part of me goes nuts over the pretty wrapping paper and surprise presents. Ultimately, the big finale never comes. That thing that I was preparing for never happens.

I have observed over the last few years that Christmas is the time of the year that I am the least mindful. I go crazy trying to predict what everyone is going to do and say, and what I am going to do and say in response. I have an action plan for every scenario. I rarely spend time in this moment, because I am preparing for the next one and preparing for the big thing that I convince myself is going to happen.

So this year, I decided to do my best to stay mindful. I wore a ring that I don’t wear often. Every time it caught my attention, I told myself, “here I am,” and I took a few deep breaths while observing my surroundings in that moment. I also wore my meditation beads and would fidget with them, counting ten beads while counting ten breaths.

Being aware of the moment helped me let go of any expectations I had that sone thing overly exciting was going to happen. I think the overly exciting thing is supposed to be Christmas Day in general. This year, I enjoyed the day more than I have in recent memory because most of what I focused on had to do with what was going on in that moment. And there were some wonderful moments throughout the day.

 

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i can’t sleep

I have trouble sleeping sometimes. I’m sure that’s something no one can relate to.

In my attempts to get ahold of my sleeping patterns I am actually trying pieces of advice that I have heard along the way but never really listened to because, “sure, studies show that’s true, but it probably wont work for me.”

Last night I tried the thing people say (those are three different links to people saying this) to do where you get out of bed and go do something relaxing for a while and then try to sleep again in a little bit. I decided to write in my journal because I found my mind racing and I wanted to try to put some things on paper. The first thing I wrote was, “I can’t sleep.” And then I got sort of philosophical about it and wrote, “okay, well technically, of course, I can actually sleep,” as though my journal was going to be that annoying kid in the class hanging on semantics and proving everyone “technically” wrong. But it uncovered something cool that I had never really thought about.

I can sleep, or I would have an easier time falling asleep, but there are some things going on in my head that are keeping me awake. The phrase, “I can’t sleep,” is so final. It’s sort of like, “well this is not going to happen, so I am going to be awake the entire night.” And that doesn’t have to be the case. So then I tried another new thing. I tried to really pin down what thoughts were racing through my head, and I wrote them down, one by one.

What am I worried about? I’m worried because I thought grades would be posted today, and they aren’t yet so I could still have failed out of college and not know it yet. I got experimental with a christmas present for someone and I’m afraid they aren’t going to like it. I’m worried because my life feels very meaningful right now and is that all going to come crashing down when I have another one of those epiphanies that nothing really means anything and I really feel it down to my core? There were a number of other things but I’ll stop there, you get the idea. All of the things I am worried about can absolutely wait until tomorrow. Oh well, they are right here, right now, so what can I do about it?

I did a ten minute meditation where I did square breathing one time for every bead on my meditation beads. It helped me separate myself from those worries and come back to the moment where everything is okay and I am safe and nobody hates me because I got them a gift they probably wont like.

Next, I took the big things on my worry list and I sort of debunked them, I guess. It is not likely that I would fail out of college with no idea it was coming. I convince myself that this is happening every semester, and I am usually quite wrong. I wrote, “everyone who loved you yesterday will love you tomorrow, no matter what your transcript says.” Next, I moved on to a question I ask all the time and decided that googling whether cats have emotions is a thing I can do tomorrow and for now I can just tell myself that my cat loves me and the fact that this is a really big worry for me right now says a lot about how good my life is. Of course, I had to then write, “please don’t start feeling guilty for your privilege. That is conversation best had with other people and not the sort of thing that you’re going to get over by yourself at 3 in the morning.” It went on like this for a while. I’m pretty sure the sleep websites were not talking about this sort of thing when they suggested I “do something relaxing.”

What I noticed when I was debunking these worries was that they were going away as I debunked them. I also noticed that I wasn’t going to fool myself. Writing, “wait until tomorrow,” was not enough to convince my brain that it’s okay and it should move on. I really had to look at the worries, as ridiculous as they got, and be kind to them and to myself for having them. I found myself sort of writing to them as though they were little kids. Like, “hey, I hear that this really scares you right now, and this is an example of why you don’t need to worry about this yet and hey I love you, you’re great.”

Ultimately, I would not recommend doing this every time you can’t sleep. After I debunked my worries, I was in a great mood and very energized. I wanted to write this blog post immediately. But I had been up for an hour. But I was hungry, so I made some food. This is the sort of thing that maybe I could try an hour or so before I actually want to go to bed, and not the sort of thing I should do when I have been awake for a long time. Then I remembered that I sort of used to do this with my Guatemalan worry dolls and it was very effective and maybe that would be a more efficient solution in the future.

However, I had to write this blog post because it was a lot to experience and then not say anything about. After doing all this worry-debunking, I got in bed, put on Bob’s Burgers, and fell asleep before the episode was over.

 

blissfully lazy

I received some wonderful advice last week. A very cool lady told me to take some time after finishing school to be “blissfully lazy.” I love that phrase. And I’m not even sure what it means or how to do it.

Over the course of four days, I talked about and thought about this phrase quite a bit. I thought of it as being intentionally lazy, or mindfully lazy. Sort of like being in the moment while relaxing and unwinding. It was hard for me to be blissfully lazy for an entire day, let alone four days.

I stop at least once a day to breathe and come back to the moment for about thirty minutes. I’m pretty good at getting quiet in the midst of chaos. But what about getting quiet in the midst of quiet, especially when I have had such a loud year?

As the weekend progressed, I kept changing my definition of “blissfully lazy” to fit what I was doing right then. Incase you’re wondering, rearranging the furniture in my apartment and buying then wrapping all the christmas presents ever count as blissfully lazy activities.

In my attempts to be still, I learned about where I really am right now, and how I really feel. I am anxious about what the future holds. And this weekend I (again) learned a valuable lesson that I will learn over and over again: the future holds sadness, and failure, and doubt. The future also holds beauty, and connection, and promise. No amount of prep work or organization will ensure my safety in those situations. The future is coming, but it’s only going to come one day at a time, and I think I can handle that. I’m not in this alone, after all.

I also learned that tea and a coloring book completely ease my mind. Good to know. Over the course of this time off from school and work, I am going to explore some other blissfully lazy activities. I’ll keep you posted.

a book!

Hey friends! (skip to the third paragraph if you want to get right to the news!)

I haven’t posted in a while. School is insane. I am convinced I am going to fail in the last four days of finals and every time I open my computer I think about how I should be doing school work instead of being on Reddit. Or I should be checking my email instead of avoiding it out of fear that I’m going to get an email that says, “hi, you suck, you are a failure and we are kicking you out of college. From, the head guy who can do that without giving you notice.” So, I haven’t been spending a ton of time on the computer.

Also, when I think about writing a blog post, all I can think about is how I want to find some way to spread some hope and suggestions for positive action that counteract how shitty the world is right now. We are living in some dark times, and I have been trying to articulate my place in all of it as a twenty-something white girl who spends five minutes a day brushing out my bangs in the hope that they will grow out faster. I haven’t figured out my place in any of it, but I know that all I can do right now is work on myself and work on my community.

There is something very cool happening in my life that I hope will touch the lives of others and that will, at the very least, be a very exciting project and an interesting journey. My book, If You’re Freaking Out, Read This, is getting published! ahh! I can’t believe it. There is a very cool publisher in Portland and they are going to help me make this book everything it is capable of being. I am so excited.

A dear friend of mine sent the version that I have scanned on this blog to the publisher and they really liked it and I signed a deal with them a week later. It all happened so fast! This process will be a lot of writing and re-writing. There will be future posts where I am going to ask you to tell me what you think about things I am adding to the book, and I really want your feedback!

I will be posting updates here pretty frequently. Right now I am working on the first draft of the book that I will have done by February 14th. I have committed to writing for at least thirty minutes a day, even if what I write is total shit. I believe in this book and I appreciate all of you who have given me so much encouragement and love over the last three years of this blog. We are in this together, and I am so grateful.

Check out my publisher’s website. They have so many cool books, including a vegan, Italian food cookbook  and this really cool mindfulness coloring book!