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.

Introducing…the MFEO chronicles.

I’ve recently been admiring those around me, near and afar, and the marriages, partnerships, and teams (of two!) they’ve created, and, in parallel, my marriage to M, and the partnership we are creating.

And there spawned my idea.

The MFEO chronicles. (MFEO = made for each other)

I plan to chronicle some stories from some of those I admire in this community (and outside of it, too) and what makes them MFEO. From the good, *and* the not so perfect.

Because, this is, after all, the perfectly imperfect me, right? And what better way to remind myself and you, that to be ‘made for each other’ doesn’t mean perfect. This also holds true for life, generally, and our individual selves. It’s not about perfection. It’s about striking that ‘just right’ balance that makes us who we are, and who we are together so natural and right.

With M, I know we are MFEO because…

…he can make me laugh like no other. It could be the crassest joke, to the simplest – yet funniest – word choice, but I just laugh – like, really really laugh – when I am with him hysterically, all the time. Daily, even. We ‘get’ each others’ humor eerily well, and even when *my *particular jokes don’t go over as successfully as his, he still laughs, or at least amuses himself that I am cracking myself up ;-)

…I trust him with all of my heart. And he trust me equally as much. Trust was something I realized I didn’t know how or when to trust, when I started dating after divorce. How long does it take to trust someone’s words at face value? After being with someone for 10 years, that trust is second nature, and you don’t really realize *when* the trust began, so when you start from scratch, when to trust becomes a scary, scary thing. I started out trusting immediately, and got burned, immediately, and once I met M, I wanted to trust so much, but was afraid to. But I soon realized then, and even more now, that he is, of just about anyone in my life, the most trustworthy – and respectful – man I have ever met.

…we can argue, and be frustrated, and get mad at each other. And it’s still okay. In fact, it brings us closer. It could be a simple misunderstanding blown out of proportion (guilty as charged, more often than I’d like), or it could actually be a longer standing issue that takes awhile to get through, that takes many reminders and conversations and frustration. But working through that, and really talking about it, even when it gets uncomfortable, is what makes us better individually, and together.

…we respect each other’s strengths and lift up each other’s weaknesses. We are a team. Isn’t that truly what a partnership is all about? He’s chill. I’m…type A, more rigid (than I’d like to be…working on it!). He calms me. I add structure (where needed) and GSD (get sh*t done) when sometimes he may be procrastinating. We motivate each other,  we keep each other going, and we make goals together *and* achieve them.

e5080839a21e01b222d9c642ba859286It’s been a little less than 3.5 years since we met, and 8 months of marriage, yet I know our foundation is strong, we are strong together, and strong as individuals, and I cannot wait to see what our ‘MFEO’ years look like 5, 10, 15, 20 years from now. And I can’t wait to share stories from those that HAVE been together for this many years, to explore their stories, and embrace the lessons they’ve learned.

~~

Cheers, friends.

Sometimes, you just realize.

Sometimes, the seemingly smallest things stop you dead in your tracks, and make you realize what a crazy, amazing, blessed life you have.

Something as small as this – a promotion Facebook did to celebrate their sixth birthday – creating a video of your first and biggest moments on Facebook, and I sit here in a puddle of tears, in awe, over what the last six years has brought me, and conversely, what I have made of it.

…my first moments on Facebook include my beautiful Nala and Kayla, seeing Nala as the very first picture made me cry right away, I miss her so, but equally love that this was the start of my six years. Because soon after was when I began my journey, and where my kitties became my companions, my support, my laughter, when I was sad, when I was alone, when I was learning to be myself again.

…one of my more popular posts was this one, from September 2012: “I am pretty sure I am the luckiest girl alive – with M” the day after our engagement. Even in that less than two years, and less than 4 since we met and married, that statement couldn’t be more true then, or now.

…my most popular posts were our ‘surprise‘ marriage, and becoming homeowners. Both of those have me beaming with pride, love and blessings.

It’s so funny how something as ‘trivial’ as a social media gimmick to promote Facebook’s ‘birthday’ has me sitting here in stunned silence. The last six years have been nothing short of life-changing forever. From a then 28 year old married woman who knew nothing about herself, to a divorced 29 year old starting fresh and from scratch, in quite literally every way, from home, to finances, to self, to body, to love, to today, 34 years old, married to the love of my life and in what could very well be our ‘forever’ home, and I am feeling unbelievably blessed.

e86a3f50e69e0d14be3b5948c851da5fSometimes it truly is just taking a step back and reminding yourself where you came from, where you are today, and where you can go from here. The possibilities are endless.

<3

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? ;-)

Sister perspectives: what rest does.

I’ve rustled up my sis Jess from her blog retirement for this post and I am so glad she wanted to write this with me  as it is a topic that is near to our hearts but also one we both wrestle with more often than we probably care to admit.

Rest.  We talk about doing it, we do it sometimes, but do we *really* do it fully and believe in why we are doing it? Not always.

As we have both been hit with illness the past couple of weeks, we noticed some major realizations and observations and we share that here, openly, honestly, and fully.

~~

My perspective:

I believe in rest, and in rest days. I completely do. But I also wrestle with rest days when I feel good, strong, and interested in being active on said rest day. Sometimes I bend that rest day a little, as a result, and almost entirely because I absolutely adore my workouts – my chosen workouts – barre (n9ne) classes and running, primarily, and there are days where it is truly hard to temper that excitement and passion. And I’m not talking miles and miles and miles and doubled up classes (taken). I’m talking a quick (extra) run or a Sunday afternoon class (a rare treat, especially if my sister is teaching!). And Jess and I are really good at tempering each other’s workouts and being that reality check for each other – do you want to run, or do you feel like you have to run. If the latter, don’t even bother. Do you hurt everywhere? Fail. No workout. Nope, don’t even attempt it.  But that doesn’t mean the mental mind games don’t stay behind, even if I’ve agreed to keep that rest day and honor it fully. *That* is what I wrestle with most, far more than stillness.

But illness is a funny thing, isn’t it? Suddenly, you are flat on your back, can barely keep you eyes open, and everything hurts in a hurts so bad way and all you can fathom is recovery and feeling normal again. Nowhere near workout ready.

And as those days pass, where you rest, rest, rest, sleep, sleep, and more sleep, a funny thing happens. You realize what rest does. It renews you, mind, body and soul. It resets you. And it reinvigorates you. And when you come out on the other side of illness, you appreciate your body’s abilities and you learn that it shouldn’t be taken for granted and you shouldn’t do more, more, more, even if your body feels good, because that’s harder and not smarter.

Let’s face it, for example, one really strong run, no matter what distance, pays off far more than a few ‘meh’ runs where you feel like your body doesn’t want to move because your legs are tight, sore, or overworked. One – it’s not nearly as enjoyable as that ‘happy’ and strong run, and two – you aren’t doing yourself any favors in your strength or endurance. What are you accomplishing? Checking a box. That’s it. I’d much rather have one really strong run than three crappy runs. Quality, not quantity.

This is what rest does, and what rest has taught me (especially as I sit here teetering on a cold brewing, but determined not to succumb so soon after the FLU last week!). It is about honoring the rest day, honoring your body’s abilities by resting, renewing and restoring. As I like to say, one day, you won’t turn into a pumpkin. Quite possibly, the reverse. Your body becomes more efficient, more able to recover and well, happier. And who doesn’t want that?!

~~

Jess’s perspective:

So I’ve been a non-blogger now for almost a year and this is one of the first times that I found myself itching to write. You see, I was down for the count with this funky laryngitis thing that had me sidelined for a week. From everything. The day job – done from my home. In solitude. My beloved barre classes? I had to sub them out. Pained me. My ‘me’ workouts. Gone. I had a lot of time to think. And question.

…how could I possibly be sick after two weeks off from work *and* a quick surprise getaway to Healdsburg (aka ‘my mecca’) with my husband over the holidays? I was uber relaxed. Not worn out in the slightest.

…why was I sick? Besides the obvious – duh I picked up some icky germs somewhere along the way – but truly why. Why now?

And the more I sat and thought about it, sipping on cup after cup of tea with honey (swapping in the occasional hot toddy thanks to a certain Tony, aka Sarena’s husband!) – it struck me.

I hadn’t been valuing rest as much as I proclaimed to value it. My sis and I had this pact at the end of the year, it went something like this:

Stop embracing go-go-go-how-much-can-I-fit-into-my-day mentality and return to the smarter, not harder mentality. A mentality that, admittedly, neither of us had been embracing as much as we’d care to admit. 

Yet, as soon as I got back from wine country, I was ready to go balls to the wall again. Um hi, where did that pact go that we so smartly made right before the new year???

Yup, out the window.

And bam – laryngitis swooped in. Down.for.the.count.

My, my, God has *quite* the sense of humor, I do believe.

As the days went by, and the rest, rest, rest, mentality settled in, I started to really SEE, for the first time, the true value of rest. Every second I spent cuddled under a blanket, not running around doing a million things, not working out or teaching or any of that, not doing much of anything…except for rest…and it amazed me to see my body respond.

I actually wasn’t feeling nearly as sick as I sounded (or didn’t sound, haha), and I think that’s because I rested. My body was working hard to avoid a full-blown case of bronchitis or something far worse and I allowed the rest to seep in.

And I sat there laughing at myself after awhile. Thinking about all those mornings where I sat in a funk, mad at my rest day, not wanting to take the rest, feeling like a superhero and wanting to do it all, be it all. Silly, short-sighted thoughts to say the least.

So now, I sit here recovered and rested and ready to REALLY do what I say and say what I mean.

Embrace rest.

Seems simple. But clearly, I wasn’t really doing that before, nor was I even admitting that to myself. So I was taught (well WE were taught (how ironic that we both got sick nearly at the same exact time…) a very important lesson this past week, whether I (we) wanted that lesson or not, a certain Someone wanted to show me (us) the way.