Thoughts Matter

I have been on a roller coaster of emotions this past month. Or maybe I feel more like one of the tennis balls being batted back and forth at Wimbledon right now. One day, I’m doing so great! The next, I’ve fallen back into a hole. Up – down – up – down – back and forth. It’s like I’m in a vicious cycle, and I don’t know how to get out.

I’ve been turning to some of my fabulous mentors and supporters for help. Conversations with my mom are always uplifting – even if they are also tear-filled. Then I saw my chiropractor last week. She worked her energy magic, and I left feeling like I’d purged some more old stuff so that I could keep moving forward in a positive direction.

And then I fell back down in the hole. Ugh. Here I am again.

Today, I had a great session with my acupuncturist. She lives on the west coast, thousands of miles from me, so we just do a Skype session these days. No, I don’t put needles in myself!! We just talk, and she works her energy magic. Another bout of tears as I took in what she was saying.

The reason last year (leading up to my 40th birthday) was so successful is that I was exploring a new me. I was allowing this part of myself that had been hiding for so many years to finally take a peek out into the world. I was having fun with this part of me as I was getting to know her. But then the fears crept in. And slowly but surely, this new me began to retreat. I wasn’t making it safe for her anymore. I wanted to, but it was as if I didn’t know how.

It’s so simple, though… and yet so hard. In order to keep her here, I need to keep her happy. And in order to keep her happy, I need to listen to her.

All day long, I need to pay attention to my thoughts. Pay attention to the things I’m doing and the choices I’m making. Are they serving me? Do I want to do these things? Do they make me happy? Am I having fun?

Our thoughts are one of the few things we have control over. I tell that to my kids all the time, and they are only 5 and 2. But I tell them they get to choose how they feel. If they don’t like something, they can choose: do they get mad? Or do they find something else that makes them happy? Or better yet, do they find a way to make that first something fun, so they can be happy no matter what?

I’m so caught up in my overwhelmingly long to-do list and the guilt I feel when choosing to do the things I want to do instead of crossing off all those things I feel I should be doing. And that is what is keeping me in my vicious cycle.

Pay attention to your thoughts. They matter. And they matter most.

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Post-Prom Confusion

My Prom birthday party was this past weekend. It was a blast! People really got in to it. One friend wore an original prom dress from the 80s. Another friend came in an over-the-top version of a powder blue tux … think powder blue matador! No joke!

I wore a classy black dress with a pink flower at the waist. It was strapless, defined at the waist, with a swingy A-line skirt. I absolutely loved it! I felt beautiful, sophisticated, and sexy. I did play up the prom part, too, with a couple of fake silver and pink tattoos, sparkly hair clips, and some glitter on my fingernails. What better time to bring on the glitter?!

I felt confident as I chatted with my guests, handed out prizes for superlatives (including tackiest prom dress!), was crowned Prom Queen, and danced the night away. It was pure fun!

Afterward, however, I found myself having mixed feelings. Some of the details weren’t exactly what I’d hoped for. But that wasn’t the real issue. It was the pictures. Some of them were great. Beautiful. Others, though … not so good.

I know that photos are a snapshot of a millisecond in time and are by no means a reflection of reality.

But it’s still shocking sometimes to see myself from certain angles. Do I really look like that?? Really?? Have I really put on some of the weight again? Really?? I don’t feel the way I look. How can I feel so much like a new (thinner) person – a new version of myself – and still look like the old me?

Well, maybe that’s just it. I have indeed come a long way. But I’m still me. I’m a concoction of all my experiences. You don’t just let go of the old stuff just like that. But by no means does it negate all the work I’ve done. It does not have to take away from how far I’ve come. The journey is not a straight and steady one. It has twists, turns, U-turns, bumps, hills to go up, and hills to go down. And yes, there are even some nice, smooth stretches. Those parts feel great, but you can’t stay on those stretches forever. It’s the bumps and turns that teach us and remind us what we are truly wanting.

So where does that leave me? I’ll start by looking only at the pictures I love. I’ll continue by focusing on the feelings: if it feels good, stick with it; if it doesn’t, make a change. That sounds simple enough, but it takes a lot of awareness. And then how to make a change to get out of the bad feeling? I like to take a deep breath and then blow it out with gusto. It’s a powerful tool, as you let the negative thoughts go out with the breath. Then look for positive thoughts. Not always easy. Like anything else, it takes practice. Practice, practice, and more practice….

Inspiration

Okay, I was just writing about how I’m looking for some new inspiration. Well, yesterday, I got it!!

I was having lunch with a friend and told her that I was thinking about having a belated celebration for my 40th birthday (which was last December). The holidays were just so busy, I couldn’t fit it in. But now it’s spring and the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming, and I am SO ready to be done with winter!! What better thing to do than have a party?! So my friend told me about how she celebrated her 40th, and I was immediately on board! I’m throwing myself a party. But not just any party. I’m throwing a prom night!! Funny thing is, I never went to prom (long story). So other than the versions I’ve seen on TV and in movies, I’m not even sure what that looks like! But I am super excited! I’m inviting friends and family from near and far. I don’t expect the ones from afar to make it, but then again, you never know! And since it’s prom, everybody better come all dolled up and ready to dance! As I was dancing tonight (have I mentioned that is my preferred form of exercise??), I was grinning from ear to ear, making a mental list of all the fun songs I want the DJ to play 🙂 This is going to be one super fun celebration! Oh yeah, and of course I’ll need a new dress! Now that is some pretty great inspiration to stay on track!!

Bump, Bump

On January 4, 2014 I had had enough. Seriously. I hit the wall, and I was DONE. Enough of the feeling of being overweight and all the negativity that came with it. Over the course of the year, I dropped 4 pant sizes. Woo hoo! I used my positivity as my main source of strength. Everything else stemmed from that. Eating better and exercising became much easier, because I was finally being kind to myself.

Just before the holidays, however, things began slowly drifting away from me. I became fearful. What if it doesn’t stick? What if I go back to the “old” me? I knew the holidays presented lots of yummy eating opportunities, and I didn’t want to miss out on them. I did pretty well, too. I enjoyed the foods of the season, mostly in moderation. And I was confident that after the holidays, I would get back on track.

Only that hasn’t happened. Mostly I get inspired one day, then find I’ve come down with yet another cold. I feel like we’ve hardly had more than one week at a time with a healthy family. Ugh. It’s wretched. Every time I get sick  –  or over-tired from taking care of the kids  –  I start eating. Not healthy foods either, of course. Why is it that we want to eat junk when we’re sick?? I know I’m not the only one.

Okay. So I get over a cold and think, “Great. Now I can get back on track again.” I start tracking my food again. I start exercising again. … And then I get sick again.

I don’t know how much weight I’ve put back on, but I know my pants are snug. The clothes I was fitting into last fall are snug this spring.

sigh

I’m now getting over a 3-week cold. Here we go again. I’ve been trying to track my food. Not doing so well with that. I’ve been exercising. (Although I have found out that I actually really like exercising! But I think that’s another post.)

Here’s the thing, though. I’m getting that feeling again. ENOUGH. I’M DONE. I do not like that image staring back at me in the mirror. I don’t like the way I feel in my clothes. I don’t like the way I feel, period. So what am I going to do about it? Time to get back to the things that worked last year. But also find some new sources of inspiration.

  • Track food – especially works when I plan the night before for the next day
  • Exercise (as I said, I can definitely do that!)

But those are the physical things. I really believe that the emotional work is what’s most important.

  • Be kind to myself
  • Say only positive things about my body and myself
  • Appreciate my body and all that it does for me
  • Go easy on myself if I have a less-than-perfect day

I also believe it’s important to take care of myself. Have time for myself and with my husband and my friends. Get a massage, go to the chiropractor, schedule health sessions with my acupuncturist. Talk to people who are uplifting. Laughter feels so good!

Ah yes – be light about all this!! It should feel good! It should be fun!

So this post is in essence my very own pep-talk. Let’s go! It’s spring! It’s time to feel fabulous again!!

Turn on Your Light

Every Tuesday, I go to yoga. I began over five years ago when I was still a graduate student. I figured it would be good for my sore neck and back that I had from all that reading and writing. I had no idea that it would set me on a new path to quite literally change my life.

I love my yoga studio. It’s so much more than just poses. There I have also learned so much about the various practices and ideologies behind yoga. Each hour-and-a-half class begins with a short lecture. The lectures are usually grouped into 8-week topics. Topics include different kinds of yoga, the chakras, health & nutrition, etc. Today was a “freebie,” as we are between 8-week sessions. So my yoga teacher decided to talk about LIGHT.

It was a perfect topic. I just did a healing session that focused on restoration and repair – in a sense, a kind of LIGHT cleansing. Somehow, the topic of LIGHT just keeps coming up for me! So as I engaged in my poses, I was reminded by my instructor to continue to let the light in – and to let my own light shine. Keep your eyes open and let in the light. Or close your eyes and visualize the golden warmth shimmering around you. Get into your Radiant Warrior pose and soak in all that beautiful light. During relaxation, I used an eye pillow. When I removed it to sit up, the light flooded in right through my closed eyes.

But what does all this mean? For me, it means focusing on my true self. Being authentic. It means appreciating myself for all that I am and all that I have to give. Too often we sell ourselves short. We feel unworthy. But that is simply not the case! We are all beautiful creatures of this earth who have our lights to shine on others. And we deserve to have that light shining back on ourselves, too. Feel proud. Lift your face to the sun and feel its warmth and light as it energizes you and inspires you to stand tall.

Part of experiencing this light is also experiencing gratitude. More and more, I am so grateful for the life I have and the body I inhabit. And the more grateful I feel, the more wonderful it all seems to get.