What’s one of your biggest fears? Fear is an interesting thing. It is such an important instinctual force that keeps us alive, but when left unchecked can quickly grow out of control, like the weeds in your garden. Sleep deprivation has grown over the years into a big fear of mine. I would argue that I had good reasons to fear it. Nothing good would come out of it for me. Anxiety was always triggered by sleep deprivation, and I’m not talking about your normal everyday anxiety. I’m talking about an anxiety that is impossible to reason with. Completely irrational. This particular anxiety has been a big scary monster hiding in my closet for far too long now. After a bad nights sleep this monstrous anxiety would follow me around like a shadow, and I would find myself at its mercy that whole next day, possibly next couple of days. Sometimes I could get away with a few bad nights sleeps before anxiety would come busting through that closet door to pay me a visit, but it always came. Sleep was my tool, a key specifically. It was the way I was able to keep that closet door locked so that anxiety couldn’t come out. I avoided that monster at all costs. Even the possibility of sleep deprivation would send me into a panic. Fear coursing through me. This cycle has gone on for years. I have a good idea of when this weeds seed got planted years ago, but won’t go digging into that here. So, cut to Friday, October 18th. If your reading this in real time its Sunday October 27th, exactly eight sleeps ago sleep deprivation paid me a visit. From around 2:30 am to around 5:30 am I could not sleep, but not just that night; every night after it too. No matter what I tried I could not get myself to fall back asleep. It’s almost as if the Universe knows when your ready. Knows when to test you. This amount of sleep deprivation has never consistently happened to me for this long ever. The Universe conveniently misplaced my key and said, “lets see what happens.” Around three days in I felt fear creeping up on me. This is around the time I would, in the past, begin anticipating my monsters arrival in terror. Instead of letting fear consume me this time, I acknowledged its presence then shifted my focus from what I couldn’t control, falling back asleep, and I began focusing on what I could control, keeping a calm, relaxed, and positive mindset. Lack of sleep has always made these more challenging for me, but once I pushed the ball rolling in this direction it built momentum fast. Each day sleep deprivation returned and each day I met it with a smile on my face and accepted the challenge to find peace within. I upped my self care. Drank my teas, did restorative yoga, listened to my body, gave my imagination positive and creative outlets to focus on, etc… and everyday despite the sleep deprivation I woke up happy. Not panicked, not fearful, just happy. Content with exactly what was happening. Trusting I was doing my part and it would all work itself out. Last night while laying in bed I gave myself permission to surrender it all. Especially the need to control my sleep. And last night I had my best night yet! If you allow it, everything can be your teacher. A chance to learn and grow. I have a good feeling this lesson is almost over. And I have an even better feeling that since my closet has been left unlocked this whole week, the monster has slipped out of it, into the night in search of someone who won’t refuse to feed him. You can’t force or rush healing, its a long, slow journey, where you have to continually show up for yourself and put the work in. (And also forgive yourself when you don’t.) But eventually, one day the Universe just might recognize your readiness and present you with something you thought you might never overcome, and you will surprise yourself with the way you flow through it with a grace you forgot you had hidden deep inside you all along.
Inspiration is a wild women. Long, tangled, flowing hair. Bare naked, totally free, only supporting a massive smile that is always stretched across her face. That smile is the first thing you see when she’s coming. She has the presence of a goddess, always surrounded by fireflies, birds, and forest animals. She also, has quite the sense of humor. She will skip right into you at the silliest, and most likely inconvenient of times. She visited me today while I was in the shower. Ran up to me dancing, twirling with words, spinning around my head before she briefly stopped to whisper them into my ear. She left as fast as she came, running back into the enchanted forest she came from. All the while, laughing while she seen me frantically finishing my shower, before the words she spoke to me, disappeared with her too. She comes and goes as she pleases. There is no taming her, and no use trying. You can’t lasso her in, in an attempt to hang onto her. That will only scare her away. She can not be controlled, because her very nature is free. When she shows up, I embrace her. We hug like dear friends, we dance, sharing and exchanging energy, and then she slips away, leaving me behind, in a heavy fog of euphoria every time. I quite like her unpredictability, it keeps my life exciting. Sometimes she shows up right as I am about to fall asleep. If I ignore her and tell her to come back the next morning, she will take the gifts she brought for me from the forest and give them to someone more willing to receive them in that moment. That’s only fair. She is in fact, a wild women who is unbound by the tangles of humanity. She works with you, if you work with her. A sacred contract lies between the two of you. Your job is to uphold your end of the deal whenever possible. Sometimes you will lose sleep or miss meals (like I am right now). It is always worth it giving her your undivided attention because her presence is an unmatched magic all its own. This is how Inspiration lives within my imagination. She might look completely different to you, and come in a distinctly different form, maybe she is a he. That’s the magnificently beautiful part, Inspiration is quite the brilliant shape shifter that one.
In February 2018, I went to see a counselor/therapist (I prefer saying counselor, but whatever you like to call them) for what I would consider to be the first time in my life. On a side note, I am now a total advocate of seeking help from a source of that sort for anything you think you might need it for! Anyways, I knew I had anxiety and depression, but she confirmed my long-standing suspicions (and my moms) that I had PTSD. The thing you always hear about veterans getting, but never really anyone else, or at least I had never heard of anyone else getting it before doing more research into it. If you’re reading this wondering to yourself, how in the heck did this girl get PTSD? Well that’s not whats important in this post. Maybe I’ll save that for another post someday, for now whats important is not how I got it, but how I dealt with it. There are so many people out there dealing with at least one of these things; anxiety, depression, or PTSD, and I am here to tell you, you are not alone. The feelings you are feeling are valid, and there is no shame in having any one of these things. They do not make you any less of a person, any less worthy, or any less deserving of love and happiness. I hope you chose to talk about it, and not to hide it. In the beginning I had to repeat to myself that not talking about it does not change it, so I might as well talk about it. There is no way to work through them, until you’ve accepted them. As I move on to sharing the greatest tool I’ve found for dealing with these things, I want to quickly acknowledge that all of us are different. Our anxieties are different, our depressions are different and no two are the same, so if what I share does not work for you, please DO NOT be discouraged. Keep searching and you will find your own “tool” that works for you as well. Also if you are reading this out of interest and have none of these things, I’m so glad you’re here too! This next part could be great for you too! It could be a catalyst for growing your self-care practice, and if you decide to do this strictly for self-care purposes, you rock!
An at home yoga practice has been my biggest tool for helping me to deal with these issues, but like anything there is no one cure. I am continually working on my mind set, repeating mantras to myself throughout the day, and I have been seeing a counselor for the last ten months, among other things. Yoga is what helps me the most though, specifically Yoga With Adriene on Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene. I have tried other yoga classes, or even videos in the past, but they didn’t make me feel the way hers do. I have Jared’s brother, Cody, to thank for suggesting her videos to me. The first time I did one of her videos, I was absolutely hooked. The minute I get on that mat my mind goes quiet, and the tightness in my chest seems to melt away. Make sure you keep your expectations realistic though. When I first started doing her videos sometimes that thirty minutes was the only thirty minutes I felt peace that whole day; the only thirty minutes I didn’t feel like I was drowning in anxiety. Another reason I love at home yoga so much is the flexibility it offers with your schedule and if your depression keeps you from wanting to leave the house, or even your bed, you can do it in bed! No seriously, I’ve done her videos on my bed before. I like to tell myself I’m an adult, so I can do yoga where ever I want! Haha! The thing I love the most about Yoga with Adriene is how it has helped me to reconnect to my mind, body, and breath (soul). She often repeats, “find what feels good”, encouraging you to really connect within, and notice what feels good for your own body instead of trying to recreate a perfect pose. Every time I walk off that mat I feel centered again. Anchored back into my own self. I really encourage you to try some of her videos. Don’t let your excuses keep you trapped in a cycle. If you don’t have a yoga mat put down a towel on your carpet. If you have wood floors use a more cushioned blanket. If you think you don’t have time, she has videos as short as 7 minutes! If you don’t like yoga, she has guided meditations, or even just pranayama (breathing) videos! That might sound simple, but do not underestimate the power of breathing. One of my favorite things to do is check in with myself everyday, and ask myself what video am I being called to today. She has a video for EVERYTHING. I’m serious literally EVERYTHING!! My personal favorite video is Yoga for After Disaster, but there’s yoga for stress, anxiety, PTSD, mood swings, anger, flexibility, seniors, and even yoga for when you’re sick! The first time I got sick after starting to do her videos, as ridiculous as it sounds I was actually really excited I was finally going to get to try out the Yoga for When You’re Sick, video. What I’m trying to say is there is a yoga for everything, and everybody. Yoga used for self-care can be a powerful tool that I believe everyone can reap some type of benefits from. Whether you’re a stressed out mom who needs some “me time”, or a retired person looking for a new hobby, or just someone looking to deepen your connection with yourself.
Every year the Yoga with Adriene channel does a 30 day yoga journey where she releases a video a day the whole month of January. The best part is that it is on Youtube, so if you can’t do a video a day for whatever reason you can do them at your own pace. I think the most important part is just seeing them through until you finish. Last year I did her 30 day True series and it took me until April to finish the 30 day series. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t doing her videos consistently, I was, but I was also listening to what I needed and most days the videos I needed were ones like Yoga for After Disaster. I did that same video everyday for a whole week straight because my anxiety was so high that week. Anyways, when I finally did finish the series in April despite it taking so long, I was so proud of myself, I actually got on the mat that day and cried, a lot. It was such a surreal experience. This year the 30 day yoga journey is called Dedicate. How fitting! Why not make a dedication to yourself to see this 30 day journey through and start this year off by making a dedication to a self-care practice. If you’d like to join me in this journey I will post the link to the sign up page. It is completely free! January 1st is a welcome day, and yoga actually begins on the 2nd, so if you have a really fun New Years Eve no worries, you can rest up on the 1st and start on the 2nd! Let me know in the comments if you plan to join me! Namaste! https://do.yogawithadriene.com/p/dedicate
As I sit here listening to Alt-J, I am contemplating what to write for my first blog post. This blog feels like it is mostly for me, but with the intention of hopefully helping others. Something that has always fascinated me is connection. Knowing I’m not alone. Not the only person with these thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The more I learned about other people, the less alone I began to feel. I’ve watched other people shamelessly own their lives and stories in total vulnerability and through that create empowerment, and amazingly through their example I’ve learned how to empower myself. Things come to us in life as we are ready. Lately “finding my voice” has been whirling around my mind like a mantra on repeat. It hasn’t let up and the time finally feels right. My intention for 2019 is to “find my voice” and this blog is the first step in that direction. I’ve always been what I would describe as a “passive” person, and because of that my voice has been stifled in attempts to make sure everyone else always feels comfortable. In doing that I’m not allowing myself to be my authentic, true self. I’ve always felt like I’m better at expressing myself and my feelings through writing, and that is where my true self resides. Writing has always made me think about exactly what I want to say and the way I want to say it. It gives me the time to think through my thoughts and to sort them out, helping me better understand myself. I love the way I can craft each and every word, weaving them together to beautifully depict my innermost world. My intention is to share with you, share in experiences, laughs, and life. Helping us all to feel a little less alone, and finding my voice while in the process. These posts probably won’t be polished, but I can promise they will be raw and I will keep it real.