Myself

Leaning into the Discomfort…

I have found that this past year has been filled with lots of discomfort. And I would assume if we took a vote of all the people we know, everyone would likely say the same thing. I also feel like this last year has gone faster than any year I remember in my adult life. I also know, if I spent time dwelling on it, I could attribute it like many of us, to so much going on in our world, our environments, and our households. I have learned a great deal in the last year, not only about myself, but how I connect to my piece of the world. I cherish my role as a mom, a wife, a daughter, sister, and friend. I am honored to be a social worker, and even more honored to be doing the work I do on a daily basis. I am humbled by lessons I learn daily, and by the people who provide space and insight to support me in being the best person I can be. I have learned many things, and continue to learn more. Here a just a few…

  1. Not everyone is going to like you. I know this one seems obvious, but truly the sting of this has been so blatant in so many ways. But its true. Not everyone is going to like you, believe in what you do, and some people are going to hurt and disappoint you. Everyone gets to decide how and with who they want to spend their time, and some of that is really empowering. And the other part of that feels like loss, disappointment, and sadness.
  2. Along with that, boundaries. I know this as a therapist because its something I tell my clients all the time. Its something I work with my own children to develop, and its something I as a clinician and human am constantly working on. Boundaries. What are they? How do you define them? How do you redefine them, and why are boundaries so important? Why are your boundaries so important to you? What I have learned in the last year is that boundaries are important for being able to set a place marker. A grounding zone for support, and also the ability to say, I think I am good and this is where I am drawing my line. I have also learned that not everyone around me may agree with my boundaries of saying no, of time, or of who I want or don’t want to spend time with, and that is difficult. It goes back to the “not everyone will like you,” and you know what that’s okay. Uncomfortable, but okay.
  3. If I listen to my physical self, it is a thread to my thinking. What do I mean by this? I once heard a yoga instructor I was training with say, ” we have more real estate from from the neck down.” And I have found this to be gold. Every thought I have, or action I respond to, I have found it started by a physical discomfort in my body. I am always good about stopping and asking myself, what is your body manifesting whether its a stomach ache, a fast heart beat, or even tense muscles. What is your body responding to? And if I ignore it, the discomfort amplifies to more discomfort. If I listen, take a deep breath, and begin retracing my thought steps, I come to a place of awareness. Does the discomfort go away? No. But my level of understanding, and of being able to stop, step back, and lean in to it begins to feel more positively responsive.

This has been a year of little control, and I know as you read this, there may be a thought of “yeah, we know.” But I will also say, thought it has been a year of little control, it has been connected to greater knowledge and awareness of what I want to spend my time doing. How I connect with people, and the importance of finding that rhythm and space for myself. and you, for yourself. We all get to decide, and I hope along the way, decisions are seen, heard, and greatly respected.

Myself

Margin of Error

How would you define a margin of error? I know what you’re thinking.. what is she talking about? And why is defining that important! Ok, all fair, but stick with me a second. The reason for my question came from some things I am noticing about myself, and those around me. The “margin of error” right now emotionally, mentally, and even physically has changed over the last six months. And the margin of error that felt jarring in March potentially feels more exhausting in September. Who is still with me?

Let me tell you what I have noticed, and see if you feel the same. I have noticed that what we started to get used to in March, let’s just call it a simpler way of producing, increased with the flip of a switch in September. Some may say it was gradual, but I will argue that many of us would say it felt like a switch turned on, and there was an increase in responsibility and expectation that once normal feels a little chaotic at the moment. The amount of exhaustion not only physically but also emotionally has increased. Schedules are changing, lists are longer, and routines feel more rigid and accounted for. And our brains! Our brains are working over time to not only ground and support the change but also track, pace, and organize. Now if you’re still with me this is where the margin of error piece comes in to play.

For many of us knowing our threshold is difficult and we typically don’t alot for a margin of error in case things go left. And now in a climate where switches have been flipped, and we hit the ground running, planning for that margin of error may be more essential and necessary than ever. But what does that even mean!?!

A margin of error is defined as an amount that is allowed for in case of miscalculation or change of circumstances. Repeat that to yourself and let it sink in a little more.

How are you planning in case there is a “miscalculation or change in circumstance” to what your new day-to-day looks like? Those moments where there is exhaustion, confusion, overwhelm, and frustration, to the moments of joy, gratitude, and success. A margin of error is your emotional rainy day fund, and it’s essential for offering yourself and others the ability to delegate, and be delegated to. Offer grace, and be extended grace. And the acknowledgment that things continue to shift, and shifting is good and not so good at times. But Shifting can feel a whole lot different when we create that margin of error. We are deserving of a little extra space to stop and breath. Some time to re organize what can feel chaotic, and space to define what has changed, is changing, and how we want to proceed. Take the time and create your margin. It’s worth it!

Myself

“Find your Tribe, and Love them Hard.”

“Find your tribe and love them hard.”  I am so connected to this saying, and likely more as I age.  I hit 40, and have begun to ask myself, “what’s more important quality or quantity?”  Be that circumstances, events, invites, people, or things.  I always come back to  quality, and this has once again become my zone of comfort and grounding.   I am an extrovert by nature, love having fun, and connecting to new people, new things, and taking risks!  I am also impulsive, and when something feels like too much change is occurring, or I don’t have a grasp on it, I commit harder.  Network larger, and end up in a place of “oh my what did I get myself into.”

I used to get a bit of a high out of racing from one event to the next, looking at my calendar, strategizing, and thinking, “I’m not sure how that is all going to happen, on that timeline, but I know I’ll do it,”  and I did.  I also got good at filling in, every minute of every day, because I didn’t want to say no and disappoint anyone.   And then later giving my husband, mom, or kids a play by play of  “ALL,” I did.   It was always met with , why did you schedule so much stuff.  and because I never had a good answer why, my response was filled with defense.

I have started to realize, that “high,”  was  often followed by an overwhelming knot in  my chest, irritability and frustration, and an end product that was filled with a quantity of connections and expectations, but limited quality connections or emotion.  I look back at pictures, and see a smile that was flat, and think, “wow, did others see that too, or was I moving too fast, no one really connected.” I also left with the nag of resentment, lots of resentment towards not only myself, but others when they didn’t understand why we (or I) would have to leave one thing an hour after arrival, to get to the next thing I had scheduled.  What I also realized is that resentment was a defense, defense that I was often “killing two birds with one stone,” and not fully invested in the people or event that I was attending, and others were beginning to notice. What were my intentions grounded in, and what was my investment in needing to have so much to navigate, and so many people to please.  When all of this was coming to a head, I decided to resign from my job at the time, open a private practice, so I could be more available to my kids and family, and leave space to “just be.”

What actually happened?  I took on another day at my practice, said yes to everything asked of me, signed up for a yoga teachers training, and committed to every job offered to me that first year plus. Because in my brain, I was being a risk taker, redefining my self, and bringing experience and income to my family.  And in my brain I was doing it really well from the outside, while inside I was struggling to keep my head above water.  All things that on paper look amazing, but in real life lacked quality and oozed an inauthentic quantity.

As the years have gone on, I have felt a shift, a shift that I felt very conflicted about for a long time, trying to force that shift to stay put.  But the shift was happening for a reason, and that reason, I have come to find out, was  to create balance, redefinition, and an awareness of what I cherish most.  Quality.

The simplicity and comfort of having a limited amount of things to do, having a history with someone that feels easy, and a structure to the week that is tolerable is something I now need.  I put as a priority.   A familiarity, and quality of connection, not only to others but to my time, my family, my friends, and myself.   And only In the last few months, have I learned to give in to that shift in myself, realizing that the things that provided me with  “I’m going to tolerate that,” have become intolerable.  Schedules that feel overwhelming, and hard, are not “I’ll push through moments,” anymore, and people that feel difficult to be around, I can’t justify my investment anymore.  I’m not saying, I need everything to be easy and familiar, or not busy and smooth.  I’m saying that as I age, I realize connections that I let drift away have started to reconnect which means I have started to reconnect to what is most important to me.  I have scaled back on my commitments, given up jobs, and realized in all,  I had begun to lose track of the solace, simplicity and familiarity time brought to me. I had begun to lose track of my tribe, the quality people, who loved me hard, accepted me in every way, and waited patiently for me figure it out.  And in the end they just wanted my smile to be authentic, and my commitments to be quality.

Myself

What is this feeling?

One morning, I woke up, drove into the parking lot of my then job, and didn’t want to get out of the car.  This happened, morning after morning, until I realized I was unhappy, and didn’t know what that meant.  What does being unhappy mean as an adult?  I also felt selfish thinking “I’m unhappy.”  I had a really great life, filled with an awesome husband, two fantastic children, a family I loved, and a job that felt pretty ok.  What was wrong?  and why now?  I had this feeling every day when I woke up, and couldn’t really put my finger on what it was.  I knew I was tired, I knew I had gained weight and wasn’t exercising, and I knew despite my beautiful family, I felt sad and angry.  I just didn’t know why, and that felt scary and out of control. I also felt hypocritical; I am working to send a message to my clients, my children, be present, be connected, and when you feel something, communicate to get what you need.  I was doing none of it.

I had been asked by my employer to put together a presentation on “mindfulness in the workplace and with those we serve.”  I thought to myself, UGH!  one more thing I am being “asked” to do, but really  being “told.”  One more thing, I was going to have to fit in to complete during an already busy day, one more thing I was going to have to take home, one more thing that was taking away from me being a mom, wife, and being me.  And it gave me that feeling again.  What is that feeling?!?  I left work that day, picking my kids up late from their after school program, late getting to over scheduled activities, and feeling like, “Why do I, we have no choices!”  and why am I so unhappy!  Yes, I was having an adult temper tantrum, internally, feeling tight in my chest, hot, and raising my voice at things, people who also didn’t know why I was feeling “that way.”

That night I was so frustrated, thinking about the presentation I needed to put together.  Thinking about notes I had to write, and assessments to complete.   My husband offered to put the kids to bed, and I snapped at him, “No! Its the only thing I like doing in a day!” When I walked in my kids room, my son said, “Mama, don’t be mad, but we want dad to put us to bed tonight, he reads slower.”  There was that feeling again!  And for this moment, it hurt, but also felt clear. My 6 year old had enough, and he was the only one brave enough to say it out loud.  My son wanted a small part of his night to slow down.   I was scheduling every minute of every hour of everyday of my life, our life.  I was angry with my job, activities I scheduled for my kids and our family because nothing was simple, nothing.  In that moment, I ached for the days my kids were toddlers, and we came home from daycare by 4 pm to just be home.  Nothing else. Life felt slower, calmer, more simple.  I listened to my  6 year old that night, passed the baton to my husband, and for once in many months, allowed my children to read a book, slowly, without the feeling we were ALL having.  That feeling!! I also created the presentation that night, working to connect to what I would want to hear from my employer, from anyone for that matter.Real talk.

Mindfulness is not about meditation on a beach. Well, yes it is, but not for everyone.  It was not something I needed to commit hours too, and it didn’t need to be silent.   I realized, you are not going to “do it right” everyday.  There are things I needed let go, and not every minute of every day was supposed to be scheduled.  I will not be able to participate in everything, and not everyone  will be happy with me!  Or even like me  for that matter.  Being mindful, meant being present, being connected in the moments, and not working to schedule every fringe second with an activity, task, or venture.  Being mindful was about reading to my kids, asking questions, and not having my phone in the room as well, so that I could multitask emails while we took turns reading.  It was about being  real, and being okay with how things were getting done, even if it didn’t feel complete and efficient.  Mindfulness and self care is truly about being present, engaged, saying no, and being aware of what your physical self is  screaming to your emotional self…..breath, connect, simplify.