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.