Posts Tagged ‘insights’

A moody week.

I had a moody week this past week. It was the kind of mood, heavily influenced by hormones, that creeps up on me every once in a while and makes me grateful that it isn’t always like this.

But in the midst of it, it felt downright depressive and it was hard to see much light in anything. And it was hard to do much of anything, aside from what was absolutely necessary.

To give myself credit, I probably did more than that. But there’s something frustrating about starting a week with a “this is the week I’m going to get organized and do the things I need to do” and then realizing halfway through that I’d have to narrow it way down.

I sat with the mood sometimes: it felt heavy and slow and sucked the meaning out of activities. I distracted myself from it at other times. I cried at the drop of a hat at moments and knew that it always didn’t make sense and it didn’t have to.

Sometimes I judged myself for it, and had thoughts that I should know what I want and I should be clear on what all my next steps are. Despite these moments of “shoulding” myself,  I also knew that it wasn’t a practical time to make decisions other than what to make for meals or what to do next in that particular day.

I have moments where I see moods like this as something to be wrestled with, to get through, to overcome. Perhaps if I add something to my day, a formula of getting enough sunlight + Nia + good food + whatever else, that it will lift, voila. While self-care and doing these activities help, there’s not a fail-safe guarantee that I’m going to feel better and stay feeling that way.

I used my DBT skills and checked the facts of what was really going on. This doesn’t always make feeling and being easier, but it does allow me to see my vulnerabilities. It takes me a few more steps closer towards accepting the mood rather than fighting it.

Now, the mood continues to lift. There’s more grays in it, more rays of sunlight, more hope and desire. I still feel somewhat exposed and cautious. I feel the fear that this mood will continue and become something more. If it does, I’ll take steps to take care of myself. Last week felt deflating; this week may feel different.

Now, I breathe in. I look at the first thing on my to-do list. And I begin my day.

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From imagining others’ lives to finding my own.

I tend to write more than I post, so I’m working on finishing what’s in my drafts folder from the past few months.

Around five years ago, I used to work at a place on the San Diego harbor. There was a period of time where I didn’t drive, so I would take the bus to work. The bus would wind its way from where I caught it in Golden Hill, through the streets of downtown San Diego, and drop me off about two blocks away from the harbor. I would walk the rest.

This thought pattern may have lasted days, weeks, or months. But I would often look at someone during that walk and imagine what their life was like, and if I would be happier having a life like theirs. I would wonder if that woman was happy as she went to her 9-to-5 job; maybe it was one she had worked hard to get, a dream job. Maybe that man in a suit was smiling because he was looking at pictures of his children on his phone. At the time, I was working at job that wasn’t a good fit for me. My passion simply wasn’t there, and some of my values clashed with their mission. I kept telling myself that it was a temporary job, but temporary ended up lasting two years. I had a life that I invested a lot of my passion into after work, but that gradually lost its luster as well.

I think I was longing for something else, something more to fill my days, and I sometimes translated that into thinking that I wanted to be someone else. Maybe I would like someone else’s life better, maybe they were living their passion, maybe they felt more comfortable in their own skin.

…Or maybe they were miserable at that moment as well. I have no way of knowing.

It definitely is food for thought though, of how I would imagine these lives that were not mine and focus away from my own. How some of my personal growth work around that time ended up being on-point, but some of it ended up being me try to mold myself to be a certain type of person. I sometimes unconsciously went away from myself while doing work to try to find myself.

And maybe this is all part of the stumbling blocks of self-discovery. Perhaps I needed to learn who I was not in order to learn who I am. After all, I can’t be true to myself if I don’t know who that is — or isn’t. However, I also recognize that there may have been an element of disconnection/dissociation from my own experience as I looked outside of myself and imagined the contents and emotions of other people’s lives.

There’s definitely a difference between striving to be the best version of myself versus the person I think I ought to be. I’m currently doing much better on former, although I still struggle with “shoulds” sometimes or wish that I didn’t have sensory processing challenges, etc. In my current personal growth journey, I strive to focus on my own strengths and challenges.

These days, while I may sometimes be curious about those around me, I’m not longing for someone else’s life. I’m grateful for the the life I am currently living, with its ups and downs, struggles and wins — my own life.

 

Not a stranger to myself — responding to a note from someone I used to know.

Don’t be a stranger, she writes.

I find myself thinking
how can I be anything but?
I was somewhat of a stranger to myself when I knew her,
in the midst of a getting-to-know-self dance. Getting closer, but always a
few steps behind.

Now I generally keep up but my
self keeps me on my toes.

On a person-to-person basis,
Not being a stranger implies visits,
intimate and casual conversations
some form of connection
we may or may not have.

It’s always a risk,
but to you, stranger/acquaintance/community sister,
it could be like facing a flame of my past, my past beliefs
or like facing the awkward silences of the I-used-to-know-yous,
and who are you now?

She writes that she hopes to see me soon.

I’m not sure what to say to that.

I am thinking of the dream, a few nights back, of people from that community yelling at me, of the nagging feeling that stayed with me most of the day.  I am thinking of well-meant phrases that came across as antagonistic that day with her in the garden. I am also thinking that this matters, but less and less.

I am thinking of the feeling of wholeness and happiness that lingers with me longer as time goes by. Of standing with myself, of being in partnership, of doing art, of finding ways to sustain my livelihood.

I am thinking of dancing.

Don’t be a stranger, she writes.

Maybe that time — time for not-stranger-ness —  has passed. Perhaps it has not. I feel distant from that-which-was. I am not sure of what will be.

I put the letter down. At face value, the mailing is a year-end letter from a nonprofit organization asking for money. Her note is scrawled across the top, turning the letter into a more personal appeal.

letter fragment

It does appeal to the part of me that wanted — and wants to be part of something. But I remind myself that I am part of something, of some things: my own life, my marriage, my friendships, my Nia communities, large and small.

And I think of what it means to belong, not merely fit in. And how at some points in my life, I felt like I belonged and fit in, but often confused the two. While I’m still at odds with myself sometimes, in feeling “not enough,” I feel more like I belong. I belong, most of all, to myself. I’m not sure I want to fit in, at least not in the way I once did.

I don’t know how much thought she put into writing this short note. Clearly, I have put some thought into how I am reacting and responding to it.

Temporally dislocated

Maybe I have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). With the time change, the late afternoon/early evening darkness hits me hard.

Maybe I am, as my husband puts it, “temporally dislocated.”  And maybe it’s both.

In other words, the time change affects my sense of time, which in turn affects my sense of myself. When and how I am located in my day is thrown off.

This past week, I’ve been feeling changeable, erratic, somewhat temperamental. Like having this intense desire to stay in, go into a semi-hibernation. Like wanting company, then later fiercely wanting to be alone; wanting to be held, then wanting more space. This isn’t a new experience after a time change; I’m simply more aware of it. I know I’ll adjust within a week or two, but in the meantime, I feel like my sense of order has been disrupted.

And then I walk outside and breathe in the air, and the relief is almost immediate. This may change after 20 minutes of running errands, and I may again intensely want to be in my quiet home space again. However, it does remind me that it’s important to step outside and feel the sunlight on my skin. It helps me actively locate myself in that part of the day. It allows me to just be there in that moment.

Odds and ends

 

Some odds and ends, thoughts and moments from this week:

*Sometimes the line between looking forward to something and dreading it is very thin for me. I have moments where I’m like, “I’m excited for this but I really wish it wasn’t happening today. How many hours do I have before I have to go do it?”

*After telling someone “I messaged them [photos] to you,” I realized that in today’s nuances of technological communication, ‘messaged’ could be interpreted as “Facebook message.” What I really meant was that I texted them to her.

*Sometimes, add another few moments of mindful meditation to my day can be really helpful. I generally do a few minutes in the morning; one day this week, I also took a few minutes in the afternoon. When I’m feeling anxious, reconnecting with my breath can be so important.

*I tend to forget that I enjoy woodworking and working with power tools. Granted, I don’t have the opportunity to do it much anymore. I volunteered yesterday at the YMCA as part of a city-wide volunteer event, and we were making playground equipment and a full-size Jenga set out of wood. And even though it was warm, it was nice to be outside, doing something physical, and creating something.

Moving to Heal reflections

M2H-LOGO-2015

 

It’s been three months since I took the Moving to Heal training in Santa Fe. Moving to Heal is a Nia training geared towards adapting movement to enhance the healing process. This can include healing from a physical injury, moving through depression, working with aging populations, and more.

It was my first time meeting Debbie Rosas, co-founder of Nia and a force of nature in her own right. Initially, I was a little intimidated by the idea of meeting her and taking a training from her. From the weekend I spent with her, I can say that she’s an incredible source of Nia wisdom. She’s curious, loves to learn, and has great passion for what she does. I heard from others that she was softer at this training than they’d observed and experienced at other trainings. Since it is largely about self-healing, Moving to Heal requires a softer touch, and she held that type of space for the weekend beautifully.

Dancing, Studio Nia Santa Fe

Painting on one of the walls of the Nia studio

Reflections on what struck me, moved me, made me think:

The first day concentrated mainly on self-healing, on following the body. While I’ve gotten better at this, I still sometimes am more focused on the moves and having the movement help me feel a certain way. I realized during a recent bodywork session that I often want an “easy fix” when I’m experiencing physical pain or discomfort, and it doesn’t always work that way; it often takes more time. Tuning in and asking my body what it needs and following that can lead to more awareness and even a shift in sensation.

The second day, which was a little more externally focused, we did exercises where we limited at least one of our senses so we could have more of a sense of what it might be like for people who can’t hear, see, or move as well. I chose hearing and put earplugs in. It brought my attention more into my body and into each sensation; my intereoception (sense of the internal) was more activated as a result.  However, it also meant that I was straining to hear the music and Debbie’s voice. She said, “Close your eyes,” at one point. I did, and it was even harder to hear. It was as though I had been cut off from the room and the experience. Those who limited their vision (by putting Vaseline on eyeglasses) said that they felt like their hearing became more acute, but it was disorienting and even dizzying to not be able to fully see what was going on. It’s very easy to take being able-bodied and having full (or close to full) ability in the senses for granted; it was eye-opening to gain insight on what it might be like for someone with these limitations to do a chair Nia class.

Speaking of chair Nia: It’s definitely different. We first tried it at the end of the first day without much instruction, just rotated among several Nia teachers in the room, following their movements. It was playful, silly, sometimes intense, sometimes more gentle. The next morning, Debbie gave us more tips about doing Nia in a chair: first, use your core and your upper and lower extremities as much as possible. Without doing that, she said, we — and our students — would be more likely to be sore afterwards. While movement is more limited in a chair, it’s also active in a different way. It requires creativity in doing adjustments or modifications. I can, for example, do choreography/moves originally intended for the feet with my hands. Or I can modify on the ground with small foot and leg movements. Or I can stop altogether and just follow the movements with my eyes. There are so many options that I normally don’t think of when I’m dancing or teaching. With all the options, doing Nia in a chair seems less limited and more like a different experience.

The second day, we played with some of the 52 moves, and it was great to see how I could repeat one move in a variety of ways. Repetition doesn’t have to be boring or limiting, and there can be variations within it.

There were also moments that were sweet, such as connecting with a partner during an exercise and creating a deep sense of safety and security. At the beginning, each of us danced in the center of the circle when Debbie called our names, one by one, creating the space.

There was connecting with other Nia people, sharing our love of this holistic form of dance fitness, creating a strong sense of community. Spending time with dear friends and meeting new ones.

I remember the conversation during the first day’s lunch, when I shared with my assigned group about how Nia had helped me with depression and my sensory processing issues. Nia has been so healing for me, and I want to continue that process. I want to be able to share that with others.

I’m still sitting with how to take my Moving to Heal practice to the next level — I’d like to be able to teach a regular Moving to Heal class at some point soon. That requires having a space and regular students, and I’m still figuring out how to establish that. In Nia, we refer to “natural time,” doing things in the time needed, at my own pace, as they unfold. I remind myself of that when I feel time pressure, when I want to start doing things right this instant. I’m taking steps. And in the meantime, I’m learning new routines and occasionally reading the materials/guidebooks.  I can also continue my own self-healing movement practice at home.

Sometimes, it can be fun to “turn up” the Nia moves to the highest level, full expression, more of a cardio workout. There is also a lot of value and beauty in slowing and scaling the movements way down. When I slow down, I can sense better into where I’m at, how I’m feeling, and what my body needs. While I can certainly turn to the external and explore how I can give that experience to others, I move first for myself, for my own self-healing. And that is what I learned and received from the Moving to Heal training.

The power of sharing my own experience.

A conversation with friend from earlier this week:

“You probably haven’t had to deal with stuff like this,” she said, after describing how she’d been feeling lately.

“Depression?”

She nodded. “Well, actually, I have,” I said, and elaborated about my own experience.

Afterward, she thanked me for sharing. She knew then that I could relate to how she was feeling.

This moment allowed me to see how incredibly validating it was for me to share my personal experience — for both my friend and for me.

When I was in the midst of my most severe depressive episode, I know that I often felt very alone and isolated in my experience. I think that affirming for someone that she is not alone may have been a powerful gift. Yes, it required vulnerability. It required me to tread into topics I don’t usually touch on in everyday conversations. It gave me the opportunity to rely on my inner strength and know that I could be — and was — okay to give support in that moment.

I felt cautious with this interaction, both during and afterwards. I know I am not necessarily fragile now, but I see the darkness within myself, the potential for becoming depressed again. These kinds of interactions have the potential to be draining and triggering. But I also realize that in many ways, this gives me an opportunity to establish boundaries when needed while also providing the kind of support that only one who has been through something similar can provide. I won’t offer solutions, but I can offer my own story and share what helped me.

It helped me to share, too. Sometimes I feel like I only give people parts of my story. True, not everyone has earned my trust to hear more. But it was important for me to have a moment where I let my guard down, especially when it seemed appropriate and needed. So perhaps I received a gift in that moment as well.