Category Archives: challenges

The guilt prison.

I’ve been lamenting this topic for awhile now – both personally and experiencing it around me, at the studio, on social media, amongst friends.

The guilt prison.

The self-imposed guilt *we* put on ourselves – whether it be to get in that workout, run faster, longer, more, push through a cold, jam in a zillion errands into an hour because you’re racing the clock to your next meeting, commitment, plans etc. or any ‘imaginary’ self-imposed deadline you put against yourself – because it’s usually either a) unrealistic, or does not *need* a set timeframe or deadline to complete. We just put that on ourselves as a deadline, which then in turns to unnecessary pressure, unnecessary stress and ultimately? The guilt prison.

Because we didn’t meet that imaginary deadline or goal or number we were trying to reach.

So we guilt ourselves, we turn to negative self talk, we beat ourselves up, or even worse, still try to find a way to meet this ‘deadline’ or (usually unrealistic or unnecessary goal), even if our heart, mind, or body isn’t really into it, but our minds take over and tell ourselves we need to do such-and-such or we are a failure.

I realize I am speaking in the proverbial ‘we’ when I am of course talking about myself, BUT I am also talking about seeing this in action just about everywhere I look, lately.

The negativity, the pressure, the anxiety – and all of it? Completely and absurdly unnecessary. Completely arbitrary. Completely self-imposed ‘deadlines.’

For what?

What do we accomplish by guilting ourselves into doing things vs. doing them out of intention and because we truly WANT to?

Absolutely nothing. 

The guilt prison is entirely draining and self-fulfilling, really, too. And partially because whatever we’ve set our minds to, is sometimes too much, or motivated by the wrong reasons, so it will naturally fail, as a result.

5e854ace1c41ff3afe31ff66716e6d77For me, it goes back to intention - my word for 2014 – and doing things out of want, not because I ‘need’ to or because I feel a need to keep up with a certain routine, but literally because I want to. This could be social plans, plans with family, a b9 class, a run,  or even food. Eat out of intention. Do out of intention. Work (out) with intention.

Strip away the guilt. Get back to basics. Let’s break free from this guilt prison. I know for one, I am entirely exhausted of it, from my own tendencies too, and my natural inclination to do more, more, more, when sometimes less and simpler is truly best. I am ready to shed this inclination fully and finally, and I hope if you struggle with this, you will work towards a guilt-FREE life, along with me.

After a crazy week, it’s just okay.

It’s been an exceptionally crazy week.

One of those weeks where I realized stuff has to give, and it’s just okay. 

In my journey towards letting go, loosening my death grip on routine and perfectionism and putting undue pressure on myself (there’s enough pressure in this world, why do I add MORE to it?!), it was one of those weeks where I had to put my money where my mouth is.

And not stress the extra laundry (gasp!), stray dish or two in the sink for more than an hour (gasp! gasp!), or class I wanted to take (today, but after an especially trying two days, I just have nothing left, so I let this go too).

And step back, take a moment to sneak in a few extra intimate moments with M this morning, since we’ve been ships passing in the night (our sole dinner together was Monday night, sadly), and embrace the time we did have this week – running outside twice together, a few extra mushy IMs or texts during the day, an extra ‘I love you’ or two.

It was also a chance for me to take a step back and reset my focus, and reinvigorate things at work. Though the last two days, in particular were mentally and physically tiring (just long days out of my comfy cozy home office, big meetings and lots of them), I came away from it feeling a bit more energized, and if that’s not a good sign, I am not sure what is, when it comes to work.

It was also a chance for me to test my patience in all things sickies. Last week, the stomach bug that had me appreciating what rest does, and this week? A cold that would not relent. The snot just wouldn’t stop coming. So.much.snot. Gross, I know, but seriously, it was of epic proportions. And it added an extra layer of stress to my two days of meetings where I felt less than professional with my box of tissues, raw nose, hoarse voice and cough. But I made it through, I took it day by day and I didn’t try to do too much. I know it made a huge difference to the severity of this cold (for as much snot as there was, I didn’t ‘feel’ that sick, thankfully!).

I am feeling ridiculously relieved as the week comes to a close, and pleasantly surprised at what letting go and practicing what I preach has done for me this week. I think that deserves a cheers or two, or three, don’t you? ;-)

I can’t relax.

I know, I know, it’s not really a newsflash or anything.

But today, during a much needed massage (I rarely get them and when I do, I instantly wonder why I don’t more often!), I realized I cannot relax. I tense my shoulders, I close my eyes but they aren’t really that relaxed, sleepy shut, they are shut but still somewhat tense, and while I eventually relax, it’s usually near the end of the massage that I really feel like I’ve ‘succumbed’ to the massage and my body feels limp and serene.

I use that as an example, a very real one, at that, and my seeming inability to loosen up (literally and figuratively!) and let go. It is *that* ingrained in me, to be go, go, go, that really relaxing, without something on my mind, a list, a reminder to do something, clutter I want to clear off the table etc. It’s always something.

I do it with my workouts. (that is changing though, as I’ve written about here most recently and a top priority for me to revamp my mindset and stick with my ‘smarter, not harder!’ mindset and actually believe it when I do it, not do it and then harp on it for hours after, silly self guilt!).

I do it with M. Yep, I do. And I hate it. Sometimes I just want to let go more around him, let him take the lead, release more. In every way (ahem). To melt into his hugs always, and not for just a moment. Whenever I catch myself rushing through THAT, I literally want to slap myself. Who does that?

I do it with work. This has gotten better, but it still happens. I have this PR agency mentality (everything must be done…YESTERDAY. every deadline, everything, faster, faster, do it, do it) that I still haven’t shaken after three years *not* working at an agency, and I catch myself rushing through editing something, or writing something, or replying to an email. I need to relax in this way too. Take more time to think about a response. No knee jerk reaction. No let’s see how fast I can get this done and impress my boss…but at what cost? Quality? Stress? Self-imposed deadlines are my nemesis.

I need to relax. I need to keep this high on my list for 2014, the year of intention. It just must be done. Who doesn’t relax during a massage?! I mean, come on!! ;-)

363fa4362f345a1973ce9deb7efcb613Boy, was that an a-ha moment today, that unfurled a slew of other ways I don’t ‘relax’ in my life. and it’s food for thought for me as we head into the first official work week of the year. Game face on…

The journey…six years later.

**I’ve been ruminating on this post for a few days. Stops and starts. It may not flow, but it’s what’s in my brain, stream of conscious**
Six years ago, I got married. October 21, 2007.
Yet it feels *so* much longer than six years.
My life then to my life now? Is simply unrecognizable. While dates that used to bear significance to ‘that’ life used to hit me more, with time, they become duller and duller and now, just a memory of a lifetime that has passed.
But what doesn’t become dull is rejoicing in where I am today, vs. where I was then. In embracing my journey. In realizing that every step I took, every decision I made, was made with intent, and was made with empowerment and choice.
I shaped this life. Me. Nobody else. I went for what I wanted, I changed and evolved and became the me I am today for nobody else but myself.
And that is something I will cherish and embrace forever.
And it is something that is always within me, this drive for more, bigger, better. Truthfully, this drive sometimes causes me angst, unrest, and restlessness. The want for more, always and my ongoing journey towards simplifying, doing more by doing less, and being content with being perfectly imperfect.
And I circle back to my beginnings, which I define as the day I started my journey alone, independently, for the first time in my life, back in 2008, just about this time of year…which is probably why I am thinking so much about my beginnings lately. Late October has felt like the ‘bewitching’ time of year for me (and truthfully, no pun intended), conjuring up the juxtaposition between then and now and it humbles me. It brings me back to that drive, that motivation and that want for the best, always. In everything I do, every step I take, every barre n9ne class I teach, every press release I write, every action I take in all walks of life, from my marriage, to my job, to my passion (b9, of course!).
Which brings me to this…some more beautiful and striking words from Jeff Goins, a writer that strikes what I am thinking just right…in the below, and generally, in any of the blogs and articles I’ve read from him lately (see my post on the Slow Down Challenge here).
THIS.
When we embrace the journey and don’t just live for the destination, we discover a deeper life.
And this. Take a read of these…and I am pretty sure one, if not all of these, will resonate. To the next six years, beyond and further. To the journey.

10 lessons we learn from journeys

Journeys are important — both physical ones as well as figurative ones. They help remind us that we are not done yet, that life itself is a trip that we can make the most of or completely miss the point.So here are 10 brief lessons I learned from my trip. Maybe they’ll help you on whatever journey you’re taking:
  1. No journey is perfect. Take one, anyway. You will grow regardless.
  2. The destination is never quite what we expect. But without one, we wander aimlessly. So having a final arrival point is important if for no other reason than it gets you started.
  3. Only when we let go of what we think we deserve can we really enjoy what we have.
  4. Inspiration is everywhere. You just need eyes to see it. Yes, even in cornfields.
  5. The hard part isn’t getting from point A to B. It’s paying attention to what’s around you before you miss it.
  6. A journey is less meaningful when traveled alone. We need community to make the most of all experiences, even if that means finding it along the way.
  7. Art helps us process. A good book or great record not only helps pass the time; it gives language to an experience you might otherwise not be able to describe.
  8. Gratitude makes any experience better. It’s easy to want to be home or some place else but we have no control over that. Turns out all we can control is our attitude. So why not be thankful?
  9. The best journeys have a purpose. But expect to be surprised and even see that purpose change.
  10. If you accomplish nothing, see nothing, even feel nothing, take heart. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve changed. And this is reason enough to continue traveling.

On humbleness, respect, and reality checks.

Lately, I’ve felt like I’ve gotten hints, reminders, little lessons in humbleness and it’s really made me stop and think, stop and change, stop and shift.

It reminds me that I’m not perfect. That my journey is not over, it’s lifelong.

For example, my fitness journey? Of the barre n9ne variety? It continues. Practicing mindfulness in eating. It takes committment. It’s not a sprint. Ever.  Practicing ‘smarter not harder’ is also ongoing. I can’t cram it all in, but what I do know is whatever ‘me’ workouts I get a week, go big or go home.

Don’t half ass a run.

Don’t take a class but zone out…zone IN.

Focus. Drink it all in. Learn more (because there is always, always, ALWAYS more to learn, even after almost two years instructing). I feel invigorated in this new season – literally and figuratively – as I set my own mini goals, to continue growing, refining and challenging myself, my body. As an instructor  at barre n9ne, to continue bettering my abilities, and being humbled by the knowledge that I can always always always improve. And that I want to always improve. Strive for better. Strive for stronger. Not only a passion but a committment. 

It reminds me that respect, trust and honor are three traits never to be taken lightly, or for granted.

These things take time to build, and an instant to be crushed instantly. This weekend, I mourn that this was taken from me, in a friendship I very much respected, trusted and honored, and as much as it saddens, shocks and upsets me very deeply, I know that sometimes, its irreparable…once the damage has been done, there’s truly no going back. And I realize how much I value those traits and how much I value the friends that do respect, trust and honor. That commit to a friendship 10000%, and it is making me reach out to those friends most right now. That I value more than maybe they even know.

It’s felt like I have gotten a few of these lessons in humbleness, respect, and reality checks this week, and I sit here, readying myself for the week ahead, I feel renewed. Clear-minded. Ready. Leave it all behind, and move forward, embrace the journey, the good and the not so good, because it all shapes you, it makes you better, and it gives you perspective.

As I read Jeff Goins’ latest newsletter (the genius behind the Slow Down Challenge), my jumble of thoughts here came together…he writes:

A thought came to mind. In the pursuit of our dreams, maybe we need to remember two things:

How far we’ve come.

How far we still have to go.

One makes us grateful, and the other makes us humble. And I think we need both those things in order to do great work without going crazy.

Without humility, we’ll become arrogant or settle for less than our best. And without gratitude, we’ll never be content and make those around us miserable.

The best art comes from a place of both contentment and unrest. It’s a paradox. We need to always be striving for better and at the same time resting in who we are, not just what we do.

As you attempt greatness today (whatever that looks like for you), I hope you’ll consider this. I hope you’ll take note of how far you’ve come and still how far you’ve yet to go.

I don’t think I could have put it any better if I tried. Attempt greatness today, practice gratitude, embrace humility.