Saturday, December 26, 2009

Working on Me to Work for You?

As a disclaimer, I wrote this on 12/22 and am just now posting it:

I am learning more and more how important it is for me to work hard at mindfulness, to continuously ask myself what will make me feel better. It not only serves me well, but it really serves those around me well too. Right now, this specifically means Liz. It seems so simple, but at the same time I suppose it is also rather counter-intuitive so perhaps that's why it took me so long to figure out.

But do not take my word for it. Try it for yourself. Do something because deep down you know that it is the best thing you can do for you in that moment and see where it takes you, see how it influences your actions with others.

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions because they have
been handed down for many generations.
Do not believe in anything because it is spoken
and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is
found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the
authority of your teachers and elders.
But after observation and analysis, when you find
that anything agrees with reason, and is
conducive to the good and benefit of one and
all, then accept and live up to it.
-The Buddha

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Holiday Hurry Scurry

It seems like these posts are getting further and further apart. I guess the holiday season will do that to you. For instance right now I'm baking 6 dozen cookies for a cookie exchange at work. This means I will end up with 6 dozen cookies total, and each dozen will be a different kind of cookie. I'm making snickerdoodles:

And, yes, my kitchen really is that small!! And, honestly, it doesn't bother me one bit. But my relatives do seem to think it's funny. For example, when Marsha was here she made my best friend stand in the kitchen with her arms spread apart to show how small it is. But it works. It totally works, and I even like it!

Our apartment, like the kitchen, is also very small. But we do have a tree, though it may be a table-top one:

...and some other decorations, too:

In other news, I spent the weekend with Liz's family, and she has this one uncle that is obsessed with money. He's probably a mid-level salesman and does pretty well, but he is just obsessed with reading about billionaires and what they buy, etc. etc. Anyway, it drives me crazy. It really does. We were sitting around talking and he mentioned this part of Florida he had recently been to and I said that I had gone to the neighboring island when I was a really little, and his response was, "Oh, that's a poor man's version of the place I'm talking about."

My first reaction was to be furious, and I was very angry for at least 24 hours. Then I got to thinking and decided to just rationally look at his statement. It helped a bit. Also, maybe he's so focused on money because he's insecure about something? Or??? I don't know, but I'm sure there's a reason, and I came to the conclusion that the comment he made wasn't about me. It was a flippant remark, and it tried my patience and my mindfulness, but it also taught me something about myself.

It taught me that I need to work on being mindful of where other people are coming from and not just seeing reactions based on the immediacy of what someone says/does. Often times there's way more behind what someone does/says that you can ever realize at first glance.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Sunday Saved

I had a really, really good acupuncture session today. I went in feeling pretty awful. It was rainy out, and I had been pretty cooped up inside all day. Now, I had gotten stuff done (load of laundry, cleaning, you know, Sunday stuff), but I was just feeling so blah. And Liz can't hang out. She's in med school. It's like they have a no hanging out rule. So I'm very, very glad I had this acupuncture appointment.

I got out of the house and did something constructive and felt oh so better afterward. Really, the best I've felt after acupuncture in a long while. And I still feel pretty, darn good! After acupuncture I decided I should stay out since it was working so well for me. I did a little xmas shopping and then went to the gym. When I got to the gym I realized that I didn't have my iPod since it was an unplanned visit so I decided to just do a mindfulness & movement session on the elliptical. It was really nice. I just focused on my breath. In fact, I feel like I'll probably do it pretty often. A lot of times listening to "work-out" music just makes my mind churn at super fast speeds. This is way odd, but I wouldn't mind downloading some jazz for the gym! haha

I think that in going off Zoloft and leaning more heavily on acupuncture & meditation, I'm learning to embrace and work with the aspects of my personality that tend to most annoy me. For instance, my anxiety--instead of seeing it as an enemy, I'm learning to view it as a part of me that I can befriend and work with. I now I understand that being naturally a more anxious person is something that can benefit me. It doesn't necessarily have to hold me back. For me my anxiety also goes hand-in-hand with being a very efficient, fast pace, no procrastination worker. I like all these things about myself. I think my anxiety becomes negative when I view it as such, when I get upset when I become overly anxious rather than take a deep breath and a good look at the situation.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Zoloft Update

I've been having a rough time of it. Well, actually, I've been having a rough time of it starting yesterday at 11:48 am. Oh, office politics. I know it will be funny one day that you sometimes/most of the time make me cry.

So, at 8:40 am, while I was walking to work, I decided to set an intention for today: I will try my hardest to see and speak to each person I come in contact with not as I preconceive them to be, but as they actually are in that moment. Updates to follow throughout the day.

11:30 am--so far so good. I find that this intention allows me to be much more mindful during my interactions with others. This has led to more mindfulness overall, and is positively effecting my work.

1:00 pm--had a nice, thoughtful interchange with the cashier at Barnes and Noble.

1:10 pm--another thoughtful interchange with the receptionist downstairs.

2:00 pm--was able to joke successfully(!) with my boss

3:00 pm--am losing motivation. all my tasks are done (and i mean ALL my tasks). would like to please go home now.

3:30 pm--it's only been 30 minutes?

And my motivation pretty much stayed at this point until I got home and proceeded to meditate and then sob. I went through lots of "I'm not sure if I can stay off Zoloft moments," I talked it out with Liz, and then I felt so much better. SO much better. It was ridiculous. Like I just needed a friend to talk to...not a co-worker. I think that was what was so great about being a VISTA--my co-workers were truly my friends, too. We were comrades, a team.

I have also just been very, very weepy lately. When I first stopped taking Zoloft I wasn't weepy at all, but I was dealing with anxiety. My anxiety is very much under control through meditation right now. I just get weepy. I cannot watch the Today show without crying. Don't even get me started on Law and Order!...or Hallmark commercials. I pretty much have to leave the room for those.

Speaking of office politics (which I did in my intro), they are tough here. A huge silver lining is that the people I work closest with are very, very nice and helpful. I still miss being an Americorps* VISTA. Best job ever, hands down.

I have to say, setting my intention for the day and really focusing on it was awesome! I really felt it helped me to connect with other people, which I see as one of the main points of life.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Holiday Shopping

I think that step by step I am learning to be a-okay with no Zoloft. This hasn't been without its ups and downs, but I really feel that I've gotten a good grip on handling the downs--the ups are easy. The first couple of weeks completely without Zoloft I was definitely much snappier than usual. But I made a conscious decision to try to recognize when I felt upset/anxious/etc., and I really feel that it paid off as I haven't felt snappy at all lately.

Yesterday I walked into Center City to do some holiday shopping while Liz studied. At times I felt a little sad that I was shopping alone, but rather than feel sad about it, I decided to take deep breaths and embrace my current situation. I enjoyed the shopping that I did and then I took time to get a hot beverage at a coffee shop and read for as long as I felt like it. It was blissful--just what I needed. I felt 100% great after reading and a hot tea with steamed milk.

Taking time out during the busy hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season also allowed me to be a better partner to Liz. After the coffee shop I was able to go to the grocery store and then head home to prepare food, all the while feeling present and un-anxious. I hadn't even meditated yet, and it was 6pm at that point. Usually if I haven't meditated by 6pm, I can feel the anxiety creeping up. I know it's time to sit. I think taking time to read is sometimes really meditative for me, though, so that could have played a big role in decreasing/keeping anxiety at bay.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lazy Saturday

I spent the morning at a mindfulness and meditation retreat. Lots of meditation and yoga = a perfect way to start the weekend. I've been laying low watching netflix shows since I got home because it's cold and rainy out right now. It might even turn into snow tonight. I think I might make some sugar cookies later today. Tis the season!

Until then Dolce and I will be doing a lot of napping. She's already promised to stay out of trouble...unlike this time last year:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What I've Learned

Esquire does this "What I've Learned" segment fairly regularly. It's pretty much always with people who are much more aged than me. However, I thought it would be interesting if I do it around this time every year. It's amusing, insightful and I figured my answers will probably change each year and it will be interesting to look back on.

I had no idea where life would take me. When I was 12 I couldn't imagine living anywhere except Arkansas.
My father always said, "It's a man's world TC." In many ways he was right, but I wish he hadn't said it so often.
Marriage requires patience and continued re-commitment to respecting your partner. Marriage is a work in progress. If you say it's not, you're lying.
The world is often confusing, beautiful, and sad all at the same time. I'm still working on dealing with all these emotions at once.
Whenver I die I will be dead, but perhaps I will come back as something better, something more enlightened. I wouldn't mind coming back as an animal. I'd like to try something different.
The best friend I ever had is still my best friend, has always been my best friend. We met in pre-school.
For a kid there is nothing more important than your parent's love and listening.
I didn't think anything could be harder
than being a teenager. And so far I've been right.
Dolce is a mischievous little devil. Just tonight she stole half of a chicken breast from the kitchen while we were eating dinner. I wouldn't change her for the world.
There is no escape from the present moment. You gotta live in the now.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Very Cool Site

Check it outtttt:

Zoloft Update

So, I've been on 0 milligrams of Zoloft for 1.5 weeks now! I'm feeling pretty good. I think the biggest change I've seen is the level of patience I have. When I was taking Zoloft I pretty much had infinite patience. It was probably kind of ridiculous, actually. I am less patient now, but I feel like I'm working with that, and finding ways to get back to that ridiculous point of patience that I had before. What can I say, I enjoyed it.
Without the Zoloft I occasionally feel like I'm back to where I was before I took the Meditation Course. However, since I have meditation as a support system, I'm able to quickly come back to a point of patience and mindfulness through using my meditation practice. All in all, everything is going pretty well.

Of course, there were also times when I was taking Zoloft that I found my patience was pretty low. My wedding day comes to mind...Liz's mom's anxiety just about made me a nervous wreck (to be completely honest). Her anxiety also made me pretty anxious over Thanksgiving, which is fine. I understand that she can't help it, but it is triggering for me to be around someone who gets so anxious. I guess previously I just have assumed that the next time I see her she won't be anxious, but I think it's important for me to realize that there's a good probability that she will be, and I need to work with that. Half-way through spending Thanksgiving at their house I realized this and came up with a few things I could do to work with the situation, and it really did make the rest of the stay much better. I know that there's nothing I can do to change her anxiety, but I can change my reaction to it.

I have acupuncture tonight and I think that will be great, too. It was really fabulous last week. I talked with my acupuncturist, and we agreed it would be good for me to go back to two times a week while I'm getting used to no Zoloft. I'm still wanting to meditate twice a day, but so far it's just been happening once daily. I think I would probably see major improvements if I switched to twice a day.

In other news, my boss isn't here today, and it's pretty boring. I had a mandatory financial systems training this morning, which was actually really fun and informative. But there's only so much I can do when he's not here, and I have done it (and checked over it a few times!). Part of working that I may never get used to is just needing to be at work in case something comes up. Right now I'm here until 5 in case someone needs something, but I have gotten everything done and really can't do anything else without someone giving me another assignment. It's odd, but I am much more used to it now than I was when I first started working.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thanksgiving. Or as Liz and I have been referring to it: Slapsgiving. It's a "How I Met Your Mother" reference. That show is pretty damn amazing.

I'm Thankful for:
1. Liz
2. Dolce
3. Liz doing well in med school
4. My job
5. Our Cozy Apartment
6. Meditation, Yoga, Acupuncture

We've finished dinner and dessert and Liz is watching "Cars" with her sister and Dad. It's not my favorite movie so I'm online and blogging. I don't know where Liz's mom wandered off to, but it doesn't feel very Thanksgiving-ish. It also always is difficult for me to be around someone who is anxious, and Liz's mom has been very, very anxious today. There has been quite of bit of tense words about preparing the dinner and I feel like I've been kinda fighting off an anxiety attack all day today. I did yoga and meditated before lunch, but it only went so far on this high stress day. I guess I might meditate again before bed.

I think besides meditating I also need to breathe into my feelings and really feel what it is that's going on. I haven't felt like I've really had enough space to do that today, but now that the big meal is over with I can do it. I guess I also miss our little apartment and the quiet time I spend with Liz and Dolce snuggling on the couch and watching TV. There's also the fact that holidays are always difficult for me due to the fooooooooooood. There's just an extra emphasis on it, but it felt pretty okay this year. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Learning to Work with Anger

I feel a million times better now. In fact, I pretty much felt that way as soon as I hit "publish" on last night's post. Before writing I did some reading from Pema Chodron on anger, and I think I felt better because writing the post allowed me to be really honest with myself.

Before writing the post I was, believe it or not, even more upset. I took thirty minutes to just lay down and think about why I was feeling angry. I would like to say I took the thirty minute break because I realized it would be a good thing to do. However, I did it because Liz needed the computer for school and I had to wait to write on my blog. I will give myself a little credit though. There are other distractions in the house. I could have watched TV or flipped through a magazine.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mmm what [I] say? Mmm that [I] only meant well? Well of course [I] did.

I've had a pretty bad day today. I was completely exhausted this morning when I woke up, and just couldn't seem to wake up at work either. The afternoon was a little better than the morning, but not much. I had a pretty okay night after work. I came home and made dinner and went to acupuncture. Liz even drove me, and acupuncture was great. It felt so good. I left feeling very focused on the present moment. Then a little bit after getting home from acupuncture I decided to try to hem some new jeans I got. It was a mistake. I should not have tried to hem them. It was just the final straw on a bad day.

After a few stitches, I said something about how it was a mess. Now, I meant it was a figurative mess, but I guess Liz took it to be a literal mess because she said something about how if it was a mess then I shouldn't do it. It upset me so much! It was an hour ago that she said that and I'm still really upset, and obviously it wasn't just the jeans/hemming that got me upset. It was just the sum of the entire day. I don't think I would have felt this way while taking Zoloft. I am just so weepy right now. I swear I've cried more in the past two weeks than I have in the past two years.

I hate to say it, but it's getting really hard. I'm pretty sure Liz hates me now, and I don't know what to do. I'm very, very upset and exhausted. I keep getting upset at little things lately, but this is the biggest little thing I've gotten upset about since beginning to taper off Zoloft. I just don't know. I feel like it's really messing everything up.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Can't See the Forrest for the Trees

I just had lunch after getting back from Sunday morning yoga. I tried a new kind of class at a Studio I don't usually go to. See, I'm pretty strictly into Vinyassa (type of yoga) practice, and today I tried Forrest and I did not love it. I thought it might be okay becasue one website said it incorporates Vinyassa, but I didn't feel like it did at all really. From the class I took today, Forrest seems to really focus on form. Not my thing. I mean form is definitely important, and some focus should be given to it, but to me yoga should be more about what you feel your body can do in a particular moment, not what your teacher thinks it can do. For instance, in today's class the teacher even corrected someone's pose when we were laying down flat on our backs in savasana (total relaxation) can you need to correct the total relaxation pose?!? I probably will not go back to Forrest again, but perhaps it's just the teacher I had because I just went to the Forrest Yoga website, and it seems like something I'd be into.

I've noticed that I've been feeling pretty emotional lately. I haven't even been completely off Zoloft for even a week yet, but I will monitor this and keep writing about it. I also think I've been harder on myself and less patient lately than I was when taking Zoloft. I've been focusing on doing the same level meditation to keep up my level of mindfulness, but I might try to meditate twice a day instead of once a day this week. I'm also going to acupuncture tomorrow so that should be very helpful.

Watching the marathon fell through because I couldn't get out of my neighborhood...all the roads were closed because of the race! Bummer.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Written at Work

I just found out I'm not going to be able to take Christmas Eve off in order to travel home. I do get the 25th through 3rd off, though. I think that more than makes up for it! And I do not care one tiny bit that I don't get the 24th off. My mom and dad, on the other hand, may be a different story. I think, logically, this should not be the case. I mean we already get special holiday time at work. Who else gets the 25th through the 3rd off?!? That means I can actually visit with them longer than I normally would be able to. Hopefully they will see this as a win-win. They're very unpredictable though so we shall see.

I had another series of bad dreams last night, which makes complete sense because I just decreased my dose of Zoloft to 0mg on Wednesday. The last time I cut my dose in half I had bad dreams 36 hours later. It's crazy, huh? I think it's crazy, but Liz just said, "Well, it's medicine that's designed to work with your brain chemistry so it makes sense." I think it's more fun to think of things as awe-inspiring, but it's good that Liz can bring me back down to earth from time to time.

I've started doing some podcast meditations. It's nice to expand the scope of my practice. For so long I've just stuck to the recorded meditations from the class I took. Granted, it's 8 different meditations I've been cycling through, but none of them deal with compassion for oneself, etc. It's more just meditation basics, which are oh-so-important, but I think I'm ready for something more now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Haiku Tuesday

Tuesday Morning Haiku

Inside sad hardwood
Outside fresh air crisps my skin
I smile to myself

I miss my VISTAs. Don't get me wrong, I love my new job. But I really miss working with friends. Because we weren't paid by the organization we worked at, the VISTAs and I became actual friends, not work-friends. It was so awesome, and probably a completely unique experience. I should hopefully be getting to see some of them this weekend because another VISTA is running a marathon(!!!) and some of us are going to go to cheer him on. I'm psyched about that. You know you like people when you'll do something at 9AM on Sunday for them.

But back to my new job. I like it a lot. It's pretty amazing, and there are really nice people here. I just miss the VISTAs. I also realize that the VISTA work-environment is not a normal work environment. I mean, we watched The Office and Lost and gossiped and went on afternoon excursions to Goodwill. We also got a lot of work done, but, still...

It's now Tuesday afternoon. The sadness I felt this morning is far away.

I took my last Zoloft this morning. I'm kinda shocked. I could never have gotten to this point without meditation, Liz, acupuncture and Buddhism. My rocks? I think I also need to credit myself. I found things that worked for me and I stuck with them. Sometimes it was really hard to stick with meditation. I remember the first week of my Mindfulness Meditation class. I cried a lot. Before the meditation could work and begin calming me it made me very emotional. Keep in mind I was taking Zoloft that whole time, which brings up the point that I need to remember that when I was taking Zoloft I did not feel happy, happy, happy all of the time. There were peaks and valleys as wells as plains.

Tuesday Afternoon Haiku

Dripping through the day

Sun coffee, smiles, words, work, paper

They fade? Breathe to sunset.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Ode to Nature

I used to hate nature. In fact a running joke among family, friends, etc. is that I once exclaimed, "I HATE NATURE!!!" during a hike. But since doing the mindfulness meditation course and beginning to meditate daily, I've gotten to a point where I can respect nature. I still don't love it, and I'll admit it does sometimes gross me out, but I am much more comfortable with it.

Last weekend Liz and I took a hike at the Wissahickon Gorge. Here are some pictures. I even smiled!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Revising My Goals

So, the big goal, the baby goal is going to have to be revised. Liz and I had a super special family summit last night at a BYOB near our apartment. Okay, it wasn't really that crazy. It's just we decided to talk about this touchy issue in public so we would stay on topic and neither of us would storm off.

And we came to some great concessions over Tofu with a Mushroom Ragout (me, which is odd because I don't usually think tofu is a good idea) and whole fish with dolmades, chick peas and feta (Liz, which wasn't really an odd choice at all), and caramel banana pie. The food was great, and, hello irony, there was a SUPER cute baby at the next table. Like, super duper cute and well-behaved. Sigh.

Anyway, the terms of our agreement are this:
-We can start trying in January of 2013 if Liz does SUPER well on her USMLE's
-We can start trying after match day (around April 2013)
-If either of us comes into a lot of money, we can have a baby whenever! (oh, money.)

Needless to say, this arrangement is not perfect for me, but it was more important to me that we reach a consensus that we both agree on so we can get along and not bicker whenever the baby issue comes up.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Settling In

I think part of why I had a somewhat overwhelming first week at my new job is because I'm worried what my boss will think of me. He's an awesome boss and really laid back and funny, but I still get nervous.

I gave this subject a lot of thought over the weekend and today, and I've come to some conclusions: 1. Yes, I am most definitely worried what my boss thinks about me/that he will judge me, 2. What if he decides that even though I do my job well, he doesn't like my personal views, and 3. Why should I be worried about any of this? As long as I'm doing my best at work, it's pretty out of my hands.

I know it's pretty typical to be concerned with what your boss thinks of you, and I'm definitely still concerned with what he thinks of my ability to do my job. That's not going to change. But when he asks questions to find out more about what I did before a week ago, well, I shouldn't get nervous. But I do. I stammer over my words in hopes of searching for something I know will adequately meet whatever requirements he might have. He is my boss. It is my job to be professional and do a great job at work, but it's not my job to say everything I can say to please him 100%.

I also need to be mindful that we're coming to this organization from very different backgrounds. I believe he's mostly done corporate-ish work previously, and I know he still owns a for-profit company with his wife. I know he's probably working in the non-profit sector (and on this project, even) for entirely different reasons than I am, and I need to be respectful of that.

We're supposed to have lunch one day this week, and my goal is to take my time, carefully say what I want/mean to say, and breathe.

"Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity." -Pema Chodron

(Also, in other news, I did check out the meditation center at lunch today, and it was fantastic!)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Re-Cap of my First Week at Work

I can't believe I haven't posted since Tuesday. I've been pretty exhausted at night this week, though since it was my first week of my new job. And since I'm much busier than I was at VISTA, I can't really write posts at work. But the new job is good. I'm learning the ropes (quickly! but there are a lot of ropes to learn...). I must admit, I felt pretty overwhelmed and even anxious many times during the past week. The one thing that really got me through it was meditation and mindfulness--1. knowing I could come home and meditate or meditate before work to prepare for the day and 2. meditation and mindfulness in the form of making it a point to take deep breaths throughout the day and focus on being solely in the present.

I've also learned that there's a meditation room where I work (it's a large university) and it's open to staff! So, I think I'm definitely going to check that out during my lunch break on Monday, and I'm guessing it will become a regular thing for me.

I have a lot to say about cutting my Zoloft dose in half again, but I'm going to save that for the next post since it's 30 past noon, and Liz and I are both hungry. It's time for me to get in the kitchen!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Counting Calories

This is an amazing blog post about counting calories. It's definitely worth a read:

I really enjoy the repetitiveness of "It doesn't matter." It's just so true. I'm pretty far along in my recovery, and sometimes I wonder what the hell I was thinking when I was so into losing more and more weight. I guess the fact that I even think this is a testament to how well I'm doing. I mean, when I really think about it I can remember exactly what I was thinking and why I was thinking it. Yikes. I am so, so grateful I'm not in that place anymore.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Zoloft Withdrawal

I had a fairly good weekend. This is a good thing since as of last Thursday I began to take half of half of my original dose of Zoloft. That's 25 grams. I guess it would have been easier for me to say 1/4 of my original dose, eh? :)

However, last night I fell asleep on the couch and then eventually made my way to bed (with Liz's help, I'm sure). I can't remember anything about sleeping on the couch so it must have been all right. Now, when I tried to fall asleep in bed I kept falling asleep and having horrible, horrible, horrible dreams that were not actually dreams, per se. It was more like I could see myself sleeping and I knew I was asleep and I was having these vivid visions, but I could not make myself wake up. Liz said I kept gasping and I do recall feeling like I couldn't breath 100%. But I could breath. I guess there are just no words to accurately describe my crazy sleep scenario last night.

I did a quick Google of "Zoloft withdrawal odd dreams," and found lots of people saying that they had vivid dreams and crazy nightmares. I've also been having blurry vision today, which is another side effect of going off Zoloft. It's unfortunate that the blurry vision had to start today since it's the first day of my new job. Oh life!

I meditated immediately when I got home and it definitely made me feel better. I'm thinking about meditating before work tomorrow, too. It might be a good idea for me to switch to twice a day since I'm dealing with a few, small withdrawal symptoms right now.

I'll leave you with this awesome picture I saw while taking a different route home from acupuncture yesterday.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Realizing Me

I was going to go to free yoga at lululemon this morning, but I think I'm just gonna stay in my neighborhood and be lazy instead. Is this a good idea? I don't know. Am I just avoiding going out? I don't really think so. I think I can be satisfied doing some yoga at home and then (FINALLY) attacking the entire pile of laundry that's been amassing. I've been chipping it down little by little, but, as we share a washer and dryer with all the tenants in our house, I think it's best that I just head over to the laundromat after I do some yoga. I can read in between washing and drying. That's the best.

I also have acupuncture this afternoon, and if I don't skip lululemon yoga to do laundry, there's no chance it'll get done. I don't want to go to the laundromat super late on a Sunday night. And if I'm really honest with myself, I'll admit that there's probably no way I'll actually go late at night. It's just not my style.

Speaking of not my style, Liz and I went to a Halloween Party on Friday night. I found an amazing dress at the Goodwill! Red velvet, puffed at the shoulder long sleeves...and I was a zombie from the Victorian era. It was a fab costume. The party, however, was much less than fabulous. The group of friends I went with all realized that we were the youngest people there by quite a bit, and I realized that I.Am.Old. I am not into drinking glasses of vodka with a splash of juice. I'm just not, and it's fine that other people are into that, but it's just not me.

So that was a bit of a bummer, and it made me worry that I'm not good enough at making friends because I can't just mold myself to be whatever anyone else is at the current moment. After a bit of that, I realized that if I just keep checking in with myself and asking myself what I want I will be able to make friends that like the real, authentic me. One good thing did come out of going to the party, though: I got to see other friends who left with us because the party wasn't their cup of tea either, and it was good to catch up with them after the long work-week.

Some quotes that apply to this post:

"He who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away." -Raymond Hull

"It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are." -e. e. cummings

...and my very favorite:

"Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, a loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness." -Shakti Gawain

Friday, October 30, 2009

Reflecting on VISTA

I'm sitting on the couch drinking some coffee before getting ready for my last day as a VISTA. It's been a wonderful, wonderful experience. I have learned and grown so much during this past year (err, 11 1/4 months). Seriously, I feel like a took a huge leap of faith when I became a VISTA. I wasn't sure at all how it would work out. I just knew that it felt right to me, and my previous place of employment didn't feel right at all.

I didn't just jump into it though. I did a lot of soul-searching before deciding to be a VISTA. Even after being offerred the position I didn't accept right away. Instead I said I had to think it over and talk it out with Liz before giving my answer. We went over our budget a couple times to make sure it was okay. It was so good to think things out and to confirm with myself (and Liz) that this was really the right thing to do for me. And in doing this right thing for myself, I feel like I've really been able to be a better partner for Liz and a kinder person to everyone with whom I come into contact. I really believe that if you take the best care of yourself that you can, you are that much better equipped to serve others and be kind and compassionate towards others. It's kinda a win-win situation--I just love those!

Monday, October 26, 2009

My Body Has the Answers

I attended the Jill Satterfield Mindfulness Meditation and Movement weekend on Saturday and Sunday. It was pretty fabulous. Lots of meditation, some yoga, which, though I really love long vinyassa sessions, I found that I loved. Even though it was wonderful and the time flew by, I found myself feeling lots of emotion at this workshop. I guess that's to be expected, but I was surprised at how powerful I found this emotion.

I did not do well in how I dealt with this emotion on Saturday when the workshop ended and it was time to go home. Well, at first I did okay. I came home, baked pumpkin bread and chillaxed. At 6:30 Liz stopped studying and we began talking about evening plans. We had planned on going on a date. I realized at that point that I was utterly exhausted. I chose to ignore that and we went out in a torrential downpour complete with strong winds to eat. I found myself fighting off a panick attack the whole way there. We left at 7:20 and didn't make it to the restaurant until 8. Hypoglycemia had set in. I kept snapping at Liz. The weather unnerved me. Driving in the weather unnerved me even more. And then I spent the rest of the evening apologizing--especially after I got some food and my blood sugar went back to normal.

On Sunday Jill reiterated something that really got me thinking. It was something to the tune of you have to do what's best for you, what feels right to you in order to be good to other people, or that's how I interpreted it anyway. This helped a lot. I left the workshop on Sunday and went home to have a snack and rest for a while before trying to tackle any chores. I asked Liz to go with me to the grocery store because I knew that I was too tired to really handle it well myself. Then I got home and put away all the groceries and made dinner and felt very rejuvenated after eating it, enough so that I cleaned up dinner and did other chores.

I checked in with myself and listened to myself and did what was best for me and it really did allow me to do what was best for my family. Liz was able to study a ton and I was patient and kind about it and I think all really felt good.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Goal Setting Session One

As I've said before, I don't really have too much of a history with setting goals. To recap, I just began doing so around Spring 2007. So far my goal setting has been pretty unstructured. So, I'm going to use this space to set more specific goals today.

I plan on following-up in a few months to see what progress I've made and also to put down what my goals are at that time so I can see how they've changed, if they've changed at all. I am going to make Personal, Professional and Spiritual goals.

Personal Goals:
1. To move into a two bedroom apartment in August 2010.
2. To have a baby by August 2011.
3. To focus daily on being more compassionate towards Liz.
4. To volunteer with Pathways' VITA program during tax season.
5. To begin putting more money in my savings account each month since I'll be making more now.

Professional Goals:
1. To be organized and on top of all of my work at my new job.
2. To take advantage of the free classes my new employer offers. I will sign up to take a class beginning in January 2010.

Spiritual Goals:
1. To continue meditating every day.
2. To read The Power of Now.
3. To do another yoga/meditation workshop

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dealing with Change

Well, I am now positive that I did get the job I've been excitedly wondering and worrying about for a while now! I gave my two weeks notice on Monday, and it's a little bittersweet. I am torn over being excited about this new job and feeling sad about having to end my VISTA year a few weeks early, something I never anticipated doing. It's funny where life takes us, or where we take ourselves.

I've been utilizing meditation a lot lately to deal with my sad feelings about ending my VISTA year early. I wasn't nervous about telling my supervisors, but then after I did meet with them and I told some of my co-workers I felt pretty sad. Like, tears were welling up in my eyes. I don't know if that's because I'm weaning off Zoloft or what, but tears don't usually come to me at work. So I took deep breaths that morning, lots of deep breaths. And I meditated as soon as I got home and I also took extra care to be mindful of each task as I performed it. It helped. It definitely helped. I did not have a full blow anxiety attack or even a minor one!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

More lululemon Inspiration

I'm still sick so I'm going to make this brief:

This is another item from the lululemon website. Maybe it's silly how much a company influences me and makes me feel better, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Maybe I should look at it as more of a whatever works type thing. It's interesting how being sick influences my view of the present moment. I am planning on writing at length on this subject just as soon as I feel better.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Three Posts in One

I just called out sick from work. I've come down with yet another sinus infection; however, this has been the first in a while, which is a big improvement. You see, after I got very sick my freshman year of college (respiratory failure, coma for a month, etc.) I found that I got sick much, much easier than before. Namely, it's sinus infections, but I'm always just a tad concerned that they'll spread to my chest. So I'm home today, and this sickness is also why I haven't posted since Monday.

Also, the job I posted about earlier, the one I was sure I had gotten. Well, now I am not so sure. I received an email late last Friday night that said "We are very interested in having you join our team." Sounds good, no? Then I got another early this week saying that I, along with the other applicants, need to come by an sign my official application for the job. Other applicants? Does that mean I don't have the job? I am so confused! Beyond confused, really.

I've also realized that reading just a little bit of a spiritual book each day really helps with my anxiety. For instance, lately I've been picking up "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle or "Awakening the Buddha Within" by Lama Surya Das and have found it to be infinitely helpful. It's kinda like how all the very devout Evangelical Christians I grew up around would do daily Bible devotionals. Perhaps I've taken a page from them.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I'm tired so I'll expand on this later, but one of my goals for a while now has been to be compassionate towards all people/things. I think this will be a life-long goal, one that I'm continuously working on because I can't see where I could ever really reach a point where I'm able to say, "okay, done. I am compassionate."

I think compassion is more a thing we must continually work on and commit to. I also think that concern for others has the added bonus of reducing anxiety. I'm not sure exactly how it works, but I think it has something to do with getting your mind off of "I, I, I". However, I'm not advocating self-denial, but more of a middle ground, a take care of yourself and your needs so you can better take care of others policy.

"All the happiness there is in this world comes from thinking about others, and all the suffering comes from preoccupation with yourself." --Shantideva

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Keep Your Goals Away from the Trolls*

I did go to yoga at lululemon this morning. It was fabulous! I left feeling absolutely amazing, and everyone there was very nice. So, a win-win, definitely.

Lululemon has a tab on their website called "education." Under "education" there is a link entitled "goal setting." I did not really learn about goal setting until mid-way through my senior year of college when I read a book by Jack Canfield. Perhaps you're laughing now because you find him to be a little hokey, but he really did help to convince me that I'm worthy enough to set goals, worthy enough to have preferences. Sure, I had heard reference to goal-setting when I played different sports, but nothing very detailed. In short, I did not understand how to do it or what it was or how big of an impact it can make. I was just sort of floating through life, and was pretty unsure of where I was going.

So, I sat out to set some goals. I think number one was just figuring out exactly what it was that I wanted, and learning that it's okay to want. The second, but equally important, goal was to become more friendly with my friends. I know, second semester senior year is not the most logical time to do that, but it was what I had. The third goal I set for myself was to stay on the East Coast after college and live with Liz. I also wanted to get a "real" job. Funny enough, I did not specify to myself what this real job would entail so I ended up taking pretty much anything I could get to fulfill that goal. Lobbying. Yep, I was a lobbyist.

So, fast forward about two years later, and turns out lobbying was not my cup of tea. I did not like working for the highest bidder. I did not like not having any say in what issues I would be supporting. It was time to set new goal. I decided that I needed to pay less rent in order to be able to work in the field I wanted to work in (social work) and still have a roof over my head. We moved, and we're still in that apartment. It's awesome (even if it is small)! I ended up taking an AmeriCorps* VISTA position to help me change career paths. Now my VISTA year is almost over, and I'm about to start my dream job. Goal setting, it's where it's at.

*Inside joke

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Judge or Be Judged? I think not.

For the past two nights I have encountered individuals that have had pretty opinionated or black and white responses to different things. It upsets me. I think part of why it upsets me is because I'm still afraid of people judging me, and, in turn, I'm still judging other people. All day today I was worried what people thought of my shoes. This is something that used to worry me a lot, even after I began taking Zoloft.

I know, I! So silly! I just cannot walk in heels, and most flats hurt my feet, too. I've been wearing comfy shoes or whatever is bearable for me, but I know that, really, I just need to own whatever shoes I choose to wear. I want to be able to move around without thinking about how my feet feel. Instead, I want to think about the book I'm reading, how good the crisp, fall air feels. I want to be able to focus on the friends I'm with and their funny stories, not my feet.

I want to be able to realize that it doesn't matter if I'm wearing comfy, supportive, whatever shoes and my friend is wearing a really cute pair of heels. She is choosing to wear heels just like I'm choosing to wear whatever it is I'm wearing, and that's okay. I guess it's like with any choice anyone gets to make--it's their choice. I can comment or choose to react in a negative way, but it's probably not going to make any impact on what they're doing.

On a completely different note, I bought a cute pair of pants at lululemon, and I think I'm going to go to Sunday Yoga there tomorrow morning. I'll leave you with a copy of their amazing manifesto.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Racings Thoughts

I just got home from a quasi-stressful day. I didn't hear anything about "the" job, and work got really busy as the day was supposedly starting to wind down. A client came in at 4:45 instead of 4 for her appointment. And there's always so much paperwork! It really got my mind going, and it wouldn't stop. I walked home, and that just seemed to get it going faster. I think I missed my long bus & trolley commute/reading time! :)

So I came home a little grumpy, and immediately sat in my chair to go online. I almost just started to mindlessly surf the internet, which is not a good thing for me to do when I grumpy. Time and time again doing that has just proved to make me more anxious. Then, when I had the internet open and was already to make myself feel worse, I remembered Positive Pause. It's a great website that just slows things down for me when my mind is moving a little too fast for my liking. The website plays music, but since Liz was studying (anatomy...eww, gross and boring) I decided to listen to my iPod while watching it, and I have to say Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes is a great accompaniment.

Do We Ever Know What the Future Holds?

I am currently still waiting with bated breath to hear about this job. I know my references were checked yesterday. I know that's a good sign, and yet it made me feel a little crazy. I just could not stop thinking about maybe.perhaps.possibly getting this job that would definitely be a dream job for me. And, yet, at the same time, I'm trying to focus myself more on the present. I'm trying to not think about how it would be a dream job for me. I'm trying to prepare myself for, well, not failure, but a let-down, a rejection.

I also spontaneously got chicken fingers today for lunch. And that's all I had. Five chicken fingers. That's a lot of fried. I then proceeded to read an article in the New York Times about a calorie restriction study. Perhaps not the smartest thing I've ever done, but I was able to focus on what the researchers found to be the negatives of extreme calorie restriction. That was good. I probably should not have read the article to begin with, though. Even still, I think it's a good sign that neither event (chx&article) bothered me too much.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What Will the Future Hold?

I had a job interview today because VISTA is winding down and I need to think of something to do when it's over. I'd like that specific something to be focused in the social services. I think the interview went pretty well. I have my fingers crossed super tight right now, so tight that they're maybe not even crossed. The Director is interviewing 3 other people, and I should know by Friday or Monday at the latest.

I've definitely noticed that I've had more anxiety today because of the interview. Having a job interview just causes me to always get a million times too excited about the future, to the point where I almost cannot focus on the present. In fact, after my first post-college job interview (2.5 years ago) my anxiety was so high that I felt like I could barely breathe. I definitely don't feel like that today, and right now I am so thankful for that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Too often we cannot tell other people our innermost hopes and dreams. I think for me, and a lot of others, this creates a sense of alone-ness and anxiety that doesn't necessarily need to be there.

For the past year I have focused on fostering a community for myself where I can express me without fear of judgment. I've also focused on judging others less. Though I still fall prey to judging and worrying about being judged, I am better able to catch myself when these things start to happen. A year ago I also quit my job in lobbying to work in social services, a career where I am much more free to be me, and I am lucky in that I found a wonderful, fairly non judgmental organization.

Another big thing I did was distance myself from my parents judgments about me. I was not able to do this by distancing myself from my parents. For so long I tried to rid myself of how much their judgments bothered me by creating more and more actual, geographical distance between us. I was still miserable that they chose to judge me so often via the phone or email. When I was finally able to stop being bothered by their judgments, I was free. And I was not just free from their judgments, I was also free to stop judging them and appreciate them for what they are. I was able to respect their recommendations while acknowledging that even though they're my parents, they don't always know what's best for me.

I'll end with this quote from Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie:

"I was plunged into a green, glass-cloudy world filled with cutting edges, a world in which I could not longer tell the people who mattered most about the goings-on inside my head; green shards lacerated my hands as I entered the swirling universe in which I was doomed, until it was far too late, to be plagued by constant doubts about what I was for."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Stopping It Before It Starts

Since beginning to wean off Zoloft I've had some minor anxiety attacks. I say minor because I was able to calm down and get through them fairly quickly. I must admit, though, a few times I have definitely found myself thinking that it would be so much easier to just stop weaning off the Zoloft, to just keep taking 100 mg for the rest of my life. But then I do some breathing exercises and talk to Liz and take a walk and just keep gently encouraging myself to do things on my "has reduced your anxiety before" list, and so far it's worked.

I think a big part of my anxiety attacks stem from me overreacting and then just running with that overreaction. If I focus on staying in the present and paying attention to my actions, I find that I am much less likely to overreact and then, in turn, much less likely to get carried away on an anxiety attack.

I'll leave you with this story I found on the FML website. It's quite funny and shows how reacting before thinking is generally bad.

"Today, I was running late and realized I had locked my keys in my car. Frantic, I threw a rock through the drivers side window to retrieve them, just before noticing the passenger side door was unlocked. FML"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

On the Subject of Parents

"We honor our parents by taking what was good and leaving the rest." -Bruce Springsteen

This quote is from an article by Mark Epstein in the Summer 2009 edition of tricycle, The Buddhist Review that really helped me change the way in which I view my parents and my relationship to them. Once I had read this article, I hungrily searched for more Buddhist writings that would enlighten my perspective towards my parents and my pretty dysfunctional childhood. This helped immensely with my anxiety issues because so much of my anxiety was tied up in my relationship with my parents--in what had happened in the past and also in how they still acted.

I cannot remember where I read it, but on my search I came across something that said helped me to understand that my parents' behavior was not such because I had done something wrong. Maybe they had difficult childhoods...actually, I know for a fact my mom did and I can pretty much say for certain that my dad did, too. And then I realized that the same probably went for their parents. They weren't mean to their kids because their kids did something wrong, something must have happened to them, too! Or maybe it wasn't their parents at all, maybe their parents were perfectly wonderful and caring, but some other thing affected how them and this in turn affected their children.

It was a big moment for me. Everything just seemed to click. So much of my anxiety and anger towards my parents instantly disappeared in this moment. I understood that what they said or how they acted towards me was not about me. It was about them, about something that was going on with them. I stopped taking their uncaring comments personally. I started appreciating the positive. I stopped overreacting when they were rude, and instead found that I was able to calmly but forcefully explain how their statement/action hurt me.

So tonight, as I have been working on weaning off Zoloft for 6 days now, I re-read this original article and re-affirmed for myself that I will focus on taking the good and realizing that the rest is not about me.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thoughts on a Wedding

As you saw from my last post, I recently got married. During the planning I was relatively calm. However, on the big day itself and the week leading up to it, I was a bit of a nervous wreck...even with Zoloft, meditation, etc. I think a big part of why I was such a wreck is that I was only able to do the very basics to keep my anxiety under control.

Unfortunately the basics were pretty much just one basic thing...taking Zoloft. I tried to keep my meditation practice up, but there were days that I wasn't able to do it because my family was in town and I just didn't feel like I could take 15 or 20 minutes to meditate even when we weren't in the same physical space.

The day turned out to be amazing--even with all of my stressing and even with our wedding coordinator not showing up! So, things went wrong and it was still fabulous. The only thing that wasn't fabulous was the amount of worrying and stressing I did in the week leading up to the big event.

Moral of the story is this, and other big stressors like this, is going to be a big challenge for me as I wean off Zoloft. If I didn't feel like I could take time away to meditate while on Zoloft, will I be able to do so during a big stressful event when I'm off of it?

I'll leave you with a wedding inspiration board I made...just because I like it. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Somewhat New Beginnings

Oh the first, I've just started tapering off Zoloft this week. For all of your who may not be aware, Zoloft is an SSRI that helps with anxiety, etc. For me it's helped greatly with anxiety and also obsession. I've been taking it since June/July of 2007. I can't recall the exact date.

Why am I going off of it since it's helped me so much? Good question! I would definitely say that the main answer is that my partner and I want to have kids in the not too terribly distant future and it's not advised that you take Zoloft while pregnant or breastfeeding. Another big reason is that I just am curious to see if I can manage my anxiety on my own.

I currently feel like I'm in a good position to try to stop taking Zoloft for a few reasons:
  • I completed the Penn Program for Mindfulness in June, and it basically alleviated any of the anxiety that did not go away through using Zoloft alone.
  • Then I began going to Philadelphia Community Acupuncture weekly. It's amazing and has helped with my anxiety also. It also makes me feel like I have an extra layer of support while trying to stop taking Zoloft.
  • The Penn Program for Mindfulness also made me more aware of my own spirituality. While I was interested in Buddhism before I took the course, I have really been reading a lot of Buddhist literature since April. This has also helped me incredibly.
Plus I have my wonderful partner who has just started med school. I wasn't sure originally if de would be supportive or not since de's pretty "if Western medicine works, then why not use it," but de is always supportive of me and understanding of what I feel like I need to do. I'll leave you with a picture of us at our wedding this past summer.