Space to Breathe

Giving myself space to breathe is a really tough thing for me to do.

Why?

Because I laid in a bed or on a couch and stared at a wall or nonsense TV for 5 months straight. FIVE MONTHS.

I am seriously terrified my brain will talk me into going there again. Giving up. I equate rest with giving up now. I know that’s not a logical thought but that’s the thought.

I am trying to rewrite that thought because your body needs rest and recovery time to heal from intense workouts. I have started to change my body significantly, I can see the muscles and I know how much stronger I am.  I need to slow down before I burn myself out. Also, I’m still dropping weight and figuring out the right nutritional balance – I am in just the right place now to make changes for the NEXT 100 day commitment.

So here’s what I’m doing to try and get out of my own head as it relates to exercise:

1. Calendar Commitments

Write out my minimum exercise routine: duration, frequency and type. Buy a calendar and put in in writing so I can physically see it every day. It can be adjusted as necessary (it will be in pencil) but start with the schedule as planned. Make sure to include high intensity days as well as running.  Adjust every 2 weeks as necessary but try to keep a routine.

I joined a few challenges within my Peloton tribe and I won’t embarrass myself by not sticking with them – the only one I’m challenged with currently is finding more time to add in yoga. I may take off a cardio day and do yoga instead.

One of the goals I am committed to is my sisters wedding in November. I want fabulous arm definition by then and I have plenty of time to make that happen.

Track another 100 days. and commit to a consistent routine within that time.

My sons birthday is the 100 day mark – October 1st.  It seems years away at this point when I am only 7 days in!

2. Recover

Allow myself recovery time. Decide if there are actual off days that include only meditation or yoga and active recovery days that include walking or a low impact ride. Stop the guilt.

Summer is here and there will be days away from the bike, plan for them now.  I know I can’t commit to the bike or tread for the next 100 days, but I can commit to a Peloton activity on the app.

Don’t beat yourself up over missed days when your body or mind need them. On day 105 when I was being lazy (Memorial Day) I got on the bike and 10 mins in, I clipped out for the first time ever. I just didn’t want to. Tomorrow is another day. The difference now is that tomorrow will be a hard work day, period. No excuses. I know I will do this so I forgave myself the rest.

Did I have a good reason to rest on Monday? Not so much. I had been on a beach vacation and exercised a bit each day. Nothing intense but I didn’t skip. When I came home I just wanted the day off even though I didn’t have anything special to do. I took the rest day and just decided I didn’t feel guilty about it. I wrote some blog posts instead! I already know which exercises I have to accomplish for tomorrow and I don’t have anything special on deck, so I will get right back on track.

It’s the thinking I have to change.  I did get on the bike and clipped in, and rode for 10 mins.  I would have been better served doing 10 mins of restorative Yoga.

Why is this such a issue? Because I told myself I would do better month over month. In my head, better meant more time and more miles March and April were like beast mode for me so when I looked at May, I was instantly disappointed with my time and mileage because it was so much lower. I need to acknowledge that my output (strength) was higher, so I am getting stronger in each workout even if there are less workouts. I am still angry at myself for May though, so I better dig deep to find the right balance that I am not chastising myself over at the end of the month.

So this is a tough one, commit to 100 days AND commit to resting when my body needs to rest.  Finding this balance is going to be tough for me as I tend to be all or nothing.

3. Practice

Meditate several nights a week and continue reading or listening to self-help books. Begin to reduce useless social media scrolling or limit it to coffee time in morning.

Encourage others as you like to be encouraged – that means intentionally posting positive vibes in my group pages and participating in group events on the Peloton. This was such a positive experience for me in my first 100 days I don’t want to let it slide!

Practice being positive with the kids – how can they benefit from what I’ve learned without thinking it’s totally corny? Practice keeping my cool but still getting them to do what needs to be done in their lives. Learn how to partner with them.

Forcing myself back to reading or listening to self-help books is a good addition in the next 100 days.  I had fallen into way to much social media.  I do consider my Peloton social media to count as self-help because it’s all positivity and exercise centric.  Reading about others real life challenges and successes is very motivating and reminds me I have a massive tribe behind me.

 

So, thats the next 100 days….I believe I am committed to do it!  It will be interesting to see what tricks my mind is going to play when I get back to work – which I expect to happen before the end of June, at least a freelance role.  I think thats’ my next biggest challenge up ahead.

No More Excuses – 100 Days of Action

I did it!

On Wednesday, May 22nd I completed 100 days of commitment to creating a healthier life. I beat myself up over 5/6 missed days, but the truth is, I never missed a day of trying – I may have meditated or done yoga those days because I wasn’t well, but I didn’t actually just skip a day entirely. In hindsight, it’s not the days I missed that I was worried about – it was not keeping my promise to myself.

I’ve been reading and listening to some great self-help books lately and one of the statements that stuck out to me was “why do you keep breaking promises to yourself?” I hate breaking a promise to anyone else, but I will give up on myself almost immediately. Well, that stops now. I am putting myself first – and while that might sound selfish to my children the fact is that if I care for myself well, then I can care for them better than I have been.

I have done a really poor job of taking care of myself. When things get rough, I bury myself under piles of work. It took being out of work for 9 months to realize how unhealthy that was. I wasn’t doing anyone a favor. Corporations don’t care. I was burning gas I didn’t have and they weren’t getting the best from me and my job took way too much of my family life from me. I can’t go back to change that now, but I sure can affect what happens go forward.

So here’s what I’ve learned in my 100 days. It’s actually quite simple, unfortunately. There really is no way around it – and not one person said any differently. Everyone’s advice was quite similar:

“You must take action to move forward. “

Sounds so practical, right?

You can’t get where you want to be by wishing for it. Or waiting for it. You have to put in the work. One foot in front of the other, just like that. Again, and again, and again.

“No one else can do it but you. “

No one gets you out of bed or off the couch every day. Only you can help yourself. Get up and get started, Lady. Every. Damn. Day. Show up for yourself.

“Build the habits, slowly, step by step.”

That was a big one. Finally releasing my big-old-type-A personality to do something slowly and steadily, Day after day. Not jumping right into 2 hours of exercise every single day forever, but building up to what felt right, and adding in more as I became stronger. Honestly, I have never been so surprised by waking up thinking: what am I going to do for my exercise today? Now it happens regularly and I feel off when I don’t exercise, even if it’s just a little, very day.

“Just do it. No secret sauce.”

Nike has it right. There is no other way. Stop letting your brain give you all the reasons not to do something and just do it.

“Practice Gratitude”

Wake up every day thankful you opened your eyes. You GET to do this, you don’t have to do this. Life is a privilege so start acting that way.

I needed to replace the negative thoughts with good ones. Consistently and repetitively. How did I do this? I practiced.

I reminded myself over and over.

Long ago, more than one person suggest I meditate. I tried it and blew it off as not for me. This time, I kept trying. I practiced meditation the same way I practice my exercise. I show up and try over and over. Some days I’m more distracted than others but practice makes progress and it’s sinking in. Meditation is simply a way to focus your mind.

I realize I have never actively trained my mind to focus quietly. Sure, I can focus on projects, peoples, conversations etc. I’m good at active focusing – actually I’m so good at it I get addicted and obsessed when I’m super interested. But this is different. This is learning to focus my mind, guide my thoughts, in a positive and purposeful way. I’m retraining my brain and that takes practice. It may take me forever, but hey, I’ve got all the time in the world!

I really like meditation when I let it work for me and concentrate on the guidance. I notice I can apply some of the practice when I’m not meditating – slow down and pay attention to what I’m feeling, where I’m feeling it, why did that feeling come up? If that emotion is not serving me purpose in that moment, I can attend to it later, but for now, learn to package it up and put it away so I can focus on whatever it is I should be focusing on. I also remind myself that my thoughts are not what define me – my actions are. So if I have negative thoughts, I must act with kindness and positive intent. In order to do that, I have to stop and think “is what I’m about to say or do going to be kind? Is it necessary? What do u want to accomplish and how am I going to hold myself accountable?”

I obviously cannot do this when I allow Trixie to get hold of a nuclear bomb and annihilate everything in the way. I need to do this in order to avoid ever getting to such an utter loss of self-control again. I will say one thing about Tony as it relates to this: I do not feel regret for telling his wife. I cannot exactly explain why I felt I “had” to do what I did – but that needed to happen for me for whatever reason. I am sorry it made it so I can never, ever reconnect with Tony again but there are times when I think that might be the reason I threw the nuclear bomb – so I COULD never reconnect with him. I’m not pleased with myself that I hurt a woman who never did anything to me, and part of me knew there was nothing I was going to say or do that would make her want to leave him. I’m not trying to make an excuse, just laying out my thought process. My goal is no more nuclear bombs ever in my life. For any reason.

I threw 3 of them last year. One to destroy my job, one to destroy that relationship and one to almost take my life. I never want to revisit that feeling again so it means I have to actively retrain my brain how to speak to me. That all started with my healthy and positive commitment to my 100 days journey.

So how did I complete my 100 day journey? I had a fabulous exercise day with Peloton with my favorite trainers. I publicized my ride on social media so I rode with many Pelo-peeps who support and encourage throughout the ride and my output was actually a personal record. I bought those huge Mylar number balloons for “100” and took a photo and posted it all over social media. And then, well then I went and got a tattoo! I had been thinking about it for a while so this was my gift to myself. I got the Sanskrit word for “strength” tattooed on my wrist. I never thought I would get a tattoo but I love it! I had polled my family and friends on several words that resonated with me and that’s the word they most closely associated with me. It hurt like crazy but it carries a lot of significance and meaning to me, and reminds me of the fire I walked through to get here.

Bitter Envy

I’ve identified a feeling that’s more deeply seated than I realized and I’m not sure how to work through this one. This is when I wish I could afford the therapist.

I realize I am very, very envious of Tony’s life. One of the reasons I can’t seem to let go is I identified with his life as the life I always wanted.

I don’t know exactly how this came to be, but it hit me hard last night. Add that to the list of horrid traits I have.

Tony has everything I want. It’s making me crazy that I don’t, or can’t, have it and it’s right there embodied in one human. How is that even possible? He works for a company I am proud of and thrilled to be a part of as a consumer. He’s respected and intelligent in the workplace. His children love and adore him and he is willing to lay his life on the line for his family. He liked all the same things I liked, including travel. He was a fantastic lover and communicator and oh so kind and gentle. He cared for me and looked after me.

I hate that I still feel bitterness over my divorce and my poor choice of a husband. My x never gave me what I needed, nor could he – but I didn’t or wouldn’t realize this until so many years later. I don’t exactly feel like I’ve wasted time because I have my family, but because we can’t even parent together, I feel the lack of cohesive family painfully. When I look at Tony’s, or other families that function lovingly, I really feel serious and deep envy.

Compared to the Summer of ’16 when I really thought I had it all – the kids seemed to be adapting to our lives well, I was at the start of a love affair, and being offered what I considered to be my penultimate job. I have actually now accepted my job will change and I have become ok with that. I am so confident in my abilities that it will work out. But when it comes to love and my kids, maybe I lack confidence and it’s why I feel envy and regret?

I did feel like a complete failure last summer, which led to the series of events bringing me to Mexico. But, in hindsight, it was coupled with envy and regret. My lover was leaving to live a life he loved and chose over me, and (all of) my kids were not the loving children I thought I raised them to be. These two things I haven’t fully dig deep enough to eradicate. I still feel pain from these things. And I think it stems from being envious that he is the embodiment of the life I wish I had. I believe it must raise my biggest internal fear that I am inadequate.

What are the chances (and why) that one person can have everything you want so exactly? I don’t truly covet many material things (well, I am a little bit bougie) – but a good life with a loving family and partner who cares for me first – that’s all I’ve ever wanted. I’ve always said his life was perfect and I mean perfect for me.

It’s less so about comparing my life to his. I don’t think I have a bad life and I do feel pride (on some level, I should probably learn to feel more honestly) of all I have accomplished. I just look at his life and wish it was how mine played out (minus the cheating husband). Why am I counting his blessings while ignoring my own? How do I remember to be grateful for my accomplishments and my family without feeling envy for what I don’t have? Is it because I saw it and tasted it for myself – I know it’s out there in human form and I can’t have it? It’s not a vanity thing, not something outward – it was his ability to love so wholly and envelope the people he loved the way he did. I’ve never been part of something like that.

And since I’m spilling my guts I also have to admit to texting him from a burner yesterday and asking him to speak. He didn’t reply. As bad as that is, it could have been worse since I was at Peloton for a studio ride and could have gone to his floor (I’m sure I could find him if I went looking). Trixie peeked out, but was seriously chastised by my better self being afraid of utter rejection if I saw him face to face.

I know talking about Tony is like vomit. But this is my safe space while I am without therapy and I can’t speak it out loud anymore. Even I want to knock myself over the head. It’s been 2 years since he stayed in his marriage and a year since I’ve seen him. But, I always say, better out than in – and these ugly thoughts have to come out.

I am learning meditation and yoga. And, as I mentioned yesterday, I do wonder how people who are great coaches always have the best positive self-talk. It just ALWAYS feels false to me. I can do it for a bit then I’m exhausted because it doesn’t feel genuine. Maybe that’s why I’m not the best parent? Maybe I don’t encourage and instill enough confidence because I’m so negative? I always try and out my kids first but feel like they take complete advantage of me rather than love and adore me for it. Do some people just win the patent lottery? (I actually don’t believe that – I do believe Tony and Kelly are excellent parents and they reap what they sowed so that’s why it bothers me more….I clearly did not sow the right seeds).

My kids say I blame everyone and everything else for my problems? Do I? Do I look outward instead of inward? I thought (and so did the therapist) that I was pretty good at identifying my pitfalls and the error of my ways. Their Dad is a master of telling them that I never accept blame. I will admit I am very good at getting away from it and directing blame elsewhere for many things, but I don’t think I shy away from the important things. I would love to be able to say that my kids and my unhappy home life is all because of my x and his poor parenting skills. But he can’t take all the credit, nor have I ever assigned it all to him. I would love to be able to identify why my home/family life isn’t what I hoped/dreamed it would be. I even shied away from blaming my parents in therapy for the way I was raised and what, most likely, created the girl who never felt good enough. I can see the reasons I feel inadequate and I can sort of understand how those would lead to being envious of Tony’s life – but how do I stop wishing it was mine? (just to be clear – I don’t wish I was his wife or replacing his wife – this is much more figurative than that)

One of these days I will figure out why I can’t let go and learn to love what I have along with loving myself. I just don’t know when.

Who Is That Person?

Slowly, very slowly, I have been easing myself back into the real world and acknowledging I don’t have much longer to subsist on liquid assets and have to earn an income. Oh joy.

My time is running out quickly. March 1st was the internal deadline I set for myself to have a job and start being fit. That gave me a full 6 months of healing. I have done absolutely nothing in the way of fitness and believe me I have all the time in the world as well as an expensive Peloton Bike. I have, however, started the gears going on my job search.

Luckily, I have a good outplacement service paid for by previous employer. I had a slow start as I was confused about how to search for a role that pretty much doesn’t exist anymore. It wasn’t until my resume rewrite was complete that I realized I had to change the way I was thinking about transferable skills as well as what I may want to achieve in my next role.

My resume writer is very strong, definitely better than the one I had in 2014. We speak on the phone and she gives me suggestions about how to finesse my thoughts on my brand (me). I realized through research what was bothering me about my old resume. The resume appeared to say “I did this” and then “I did more of this” and finally “I did a lot more of this” without really highlighting my soft skills that have been quantifiable from my previous role. I was solely focused on my technical skills as I had been in the past, and many of those are actually not transferable skills. But, soft skills are hard to quantify – everyone can state “influential and dynamic” in writing, but I had actually influenced change and created a dynamic process and team – I had quantifiable achievements that can be considered highly valuable in another area.

So we talked through what was on my mind, I made some bullet points for her to use as specifics and a jumping off point to refine and wordsmith to create my brand and we had a blueprint to a new resume focus.

The resume that came back was fascinating! It took me more than a few minutes to digest that it was, perhaps, me. It felt uncomfortable at first. I sent it to a few close peers and received back “sounds just like you, Mads!” Even when I questioned them “isn’t that too over the top? Do I really do these things? do you receive me as a Visionary Leader?” their answers were always “yes, that’s you now.”

Ummmmmm, ok. Humbled.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I haven’t had many moments of true happiness and confidence in 9 months. I got the iceberg in January of 18, but I really didn’t begin to sink until April of 18. Once I took on water, I went down fast from April – September. By September I had given up all hope and just wished for a painless exit. We all know I wasn’t granted my wish, God has a higher purpose for me. I didn’t experience any lasting moments of Joy from April through November, it seemed as if one more difficult, trying or miserable thing just kept happening and I was helpless to affect the outcome.

Regardless if Rob is never apart of my life, the Thanksgiving Football Party with my family, friends and Rob brought me a great deal of happiness for the first time in what had felt like forever. The feeling continued for some time and was the first glimpse that I could move forward. I had another lovely burst of joy around a holiday party with my family, sans a man, but it didn’t have the same lingering effect as the first. My life isn’t entirely devoid of happy moments, they just seem to fade very quickly at this time.

The resume was the second instance of lingering confidence and joy, and this didn’t happen until January. You will all be pleased to note this had nothing to do with a man! Reading the new view of myself elevated my confidence level to the moon and back. But then the doubts crept in – was that really me? Could I do it? Did I want to do it? Do I want to work that had to achieve? Was I presenting an imaginary version of myself?

I knew I could do it if I put my mind to it, but my mind isn’t necessarily in working order these days.

I also know I need to be consistent with positive thoughts and put my statements out into the universe, repeat them and bring the positive energy and light back unto me. I do believe in this, but putting daily mindfulness into practice has always been difficult for me.

I chose to take a webinar about bulletproof confidence. I need to invest in myself and do more mindfulness, but the hours of doing nothing still seem to slip by. The therapist says I will get there, but I’m beginning to get worried that I’m buried in cement as I can’t seem to maintain the effort.

What am I so afraid of?

The glimpses come and they are wonderful and enlightening, but I cannot sustain them. Maybe I am just too afraid of flying high and failing all over again: making promises I can’t actually keep because I’m a fraud?

A failed relationship, a failed career and parenting fails out the whazoo. I’m tired of picking myself up off the ground only to find myself here again, but my total lack of desire to even try this time is frightening, even to me.