h.

hit the reset button with your little something

I’ll fill you in on a little secret.

Work this past week has been stressful.  And while I am getting better at managing my stress, sometimes there is just so much going on that I feel like I just want to do laps around the office and scream.  Knowing that there are two paths to consider when confronted with something that causes stress and anxiety, I always opt for the ‘taking it easy’; however, I will admit, there are days that I do slip and don’t remember that those exist.  So naturally, I get stressed out.

Yes, I am guilty.  But I don’t feel too guilty, because I understand that I am human and that I will slip and make errors.  And realizing this is good.  Because if I put myself under the expectation that I will be perfect, then I will just drive myself, well, perfectly insane.  To think that life will be flawless and that you will never encounter an uncomfortable situation is not realistic.  Every day, curve balls are thrown at us.  Truth is, we cannot control the environment.  However, what we can control are ourselves.  Yes, life will be rough, but sit and reflect.  Is there something that we can do to keep our sanity?   Because at the end of the day, we all go to bed.  At the end of the day we all have 2 or 3 minutes to ourselves to quickly plan.  What is that certain something that will jump start the trajectory to a better tomorrow? A better sense of sanity?  A better state of health?  A better you?

You know, the past few days had me almost ripping my hair out, but I sensed that tension and didn’t go home and let it just bottle it up inside of me, nor did I let it out on my husband.  No, I took the time and went to yoga on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, while in the office, I may have wanted to just throw my hands up in the air because I felt like I was completely overwhelmed, but instead I took a few minutes and meditated in the restroom.  It’s all about finding that little something that you see as an outlet to release and let go.

Now, onto my little secret.  While I love yoga and meditating, every now and then I need something else that really lets me release frustrations and allow myself to be a goof ball (not just something to calm my tensions).  Want to know what I do sometimes after work every now and then?  Are you sure?  Promise not to laugh?  No, it’s okay if you laugh.

I go karaoking.  Alone.

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Yes, I take my little self to a karaoke place, walk up and bravely say “room for one, please.”  And there I am.  In a room.  Made for singing.  But if you put a rock song on, you’re made for screaming.  And if you put on the fancy lights and the music really loud, you’re made for dancing.  The best part about this is that it’s only you and no one else.

I know, I’m silly.  And you may find this weird.  But to me, this is my little something that makes me feel so much better.  Yes, I can most definitely do it at home (and for free), but sometimes someone else is there or I may disturb the neighbors. But there is no worry inside my little karaoke room.  I find such a release in singing, and while I’m no professional, it gives me that little something that releases.

Your little something doesn’t have to be singing.  It could be punching a bag at the gym.  Maybe it’s getting a massage (think of the tension in those muscles!).  Or maybe, it’s going for a long hard run while listening to your favorite song.  Your little something doesn’t have to cost a thing.  But finding your little something is something that I hope everyone tries because once you have found it, you can look forward to this little guilty pleasure.  It helps validate ourselves.  It tells us that we are worth it.  And it’s making time for ourselves to just release.  I’ll never give up my yoga, because I find it so helpful.  But I can look forward to giving myself my own little concert once in a while, no? 😉

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Hit the reset button with your little something.
Loren.

w.

who knew stress management could come down to two paths?

Smiling.  That’s how I woke up this morning and that’s how I intend to stay throughout the day.

After my anxiety attack, a very, very wise woman once told me that if I am ever confronted with something that makes me start to get anxious, I can either take one of two paths:  I can either take it easy or don’t care at all.  And while I looked at her like she had three heads at the time, it wasn’t until recently that I started to implement this in my life and, boy oh boy, do I see a change.

For me, it’s all a matter of putting things into perspective (I know it’s easier said than done, but after getting in the habit of trying to do it, you actually start doing it).  Think about it: after coming home from a long day of work, am I going to completely freak out that dinner still has to be made and add stress to what I already encountered throughout the day?  No.  I either take it easy and have dinner done by nine o’clock in the evening or I just don’t care and order out.  Another example: visiting someone that usually says hurtful things and always judges.  Am I going to get into a heated argument with them and let them have control over who I am or what I do?  No.  I either take in their critiques and kindly say a few words about how that makes me feel (take it easy) or just say “oh” and take what they say with a grain of salt and just let it go.  Do a cartwheel when you leave.  Stroll down the street like you’re in a musical.  Whatever!

The point is that life is such a beautiful thing.  Living with anxiety is just code for living with layers of stress.  But what if we can slowly peel off those layers one by one by either taking it easy or just not caring.  If the closet door is left open every day are you going to yell at the other person for not following your preferences?  Or will you kindly mention it and close it yourself? (This, by the way, is an issue at my home, but I just don’t care anymore.  Think of those arguments I just saved!  No stress).

Everyday day is chance to be better than yesterday.  Don’t worry yourself about the ‘what-if’s’ and the ‘but’s’,  just think about the present and how wonderful it is to breath, move, and be active.  If something makes you anxious just stop and put it into perspective.  If you don’t want to take one of those two paths, you’re just going to continue stressing yourself out and driving yourself crazy.  You deserve the best.  Try it.  Choose one of those paths.  Because remember, in the end, you matter.  Your health matters.  Your happiness matters.  Take things easy or just don’t care about them at all.

As for me?  I took it easy making my husband breakfast this morning and am now going to go for a run.

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I like this free-spirit I am finding.
Who knew stress management could come down to two paths?

Loren.

A.

As for the week-long toilet seat argument? Who cares. Namaste.

Before my giant anxiety attack last summer, I never regarded yoga as something valuable. I respected the people that did it, but chuckled inside at how serious they took it (I know, how mature of me). While bending in different positions seemed like an awesome skill to have, I wasn’t interested in yoga.  I didn’t see any benefit in doing it.  It just wasn’t my thing.

After my husband and I got married and finished moving into our new apartment, there was already so much stress that I had been under and was suppressing.  There was that whole wedding thing which, like many brides out there, wanted it to be perfect.  Everyone was going to be talking about this and that.  So, naturally, I would stress out, scream out loud, and cry so much until I figured out what would make everyone enjoy our wedding and make them happy.  Next, there was that moving-in-and-living-together-for-the-first-time-ever thing (that was also stressful).  The whole toilet seat argument?  Yeah, it happened.  For a week.  And all of this was just the tip of the iceberg at the time (January 2013).

I did nothing about all of this negative energy inside of me and just let it marinate, like a tomato sauce over low heat on the stove; however, my husband saw how sad and unhappy I was and suggested I try the yoga studio down the block.  I refused so many times but finally, to make him happy, decided to try it out to prove to him that it was just another waste of time.  I convinced him to try it with me and off we went… to an open-level vinyasa class.

Stepping into the classroom, you could immediately feel some sort of something in the air.  Everyone was in silence for a couple of minutes to themselves, when suddenly, the instructor hit a gong and everyone went into a loud expression of “ommmmmmm.”  Confused,  I quickly nudged my husband and gave him a what-in-the-world-is-this-place look.  I couldn’t help but press my lips together to not laugh and started to look around the room.  Everyone was so calm, focusing on their breath, and in the moment.  And I?  I was waiting for someone to come out and tell me that I was on a secret hidden camera TV show.

The instructor was nice and helpful.  She made us do all sorts of handstands (that I obviously couldn’t do) and then some crazy twisting (that I didn’t even know was humanly possible).  Throughout the class, however, I grew very impatient and kept looking at the clock every 15 minutes.  I kept tapping my foot and thought about everything under the sun:  what we were going to have for dinner, if the drugstore was open so I could buy a lip balm, if it was 5 or 6 urgent meetings that I had to schedule the next day at work, why my husband was able to do a handstand and I wasn’t, and what the groundhog did 364 days out of the year.  I just wasn’t into it.  I wanted to walk out and continue with life.

Surprisingly, I stayed until the end, but I left that class and never went back.  I dismissed yoga as too ‘hippie’ and not my style.  I didn’t have the time to take out 90 minutes of my life at least once a week and be ‘patient’ and ‘breathe’.  I had things to do and people to see.  Life was moving fast and my mind was moving faster.  I couldn’t stop.  I wasn’t going to stop.

Summer came around and that’s when the anxiety attack happened.  I didn’t know why that was happening to me.  I didn’t know what I did wrong to deserve it.  I did, though, sit and think for a few weeks and finally realized that I had to take things easier.  I had to slow down and relax.

It wasn’t until October of 2013 that I looked at my husband and told him that I thought yoga would help me.  So, I looked up the different types of yoga and educated myself.  I learned that there was one kind that was more meditative and less strenuous on the body, which would help with controlling my breath and reduce stress: Hatha Yoga (which was very different, by the way, than my first vinyasa class).  I found a studio that offered it and in I went.

My experience with yoga for the first two months will be one that I will never forget because it took me yet on another journey.  I had to do something crazy and something that truly scared me:  I had to breathe and relax.  Not only that, but I had to learn how to discipline myself.  All throughout my life, I kept running away from confrontation.  I hated the feeling of being ‘uncomfortable’ and ‘vulnerable’.  I was afraid.  I was afraid of myself.  But I knew.  I knew I had to be brave.

This yoga class is the most basic of basics.  You sit and meditate.  You don’t even sweat.  Truth is, I made myself go twice twice a week and hated it each and every time.  But I knew I had to stick with it.  I had to do this for the monster inside of me.  During my first 2 weeks I felt anxious and so confined, but had to think positive and I overcame it.  The following 2 weeks made me feel angry and made me pity myself, but I overcame it.  The following month I started to be more comfortable with yoga and found myself crying during class.  And that’s when I knew that this was helping me.  There was something about the way I was slightly bending that let air go through my body and into my brain that made me think clearer.  It made whatever was in my subconscious come out and just pour itself out through my eyes in the form of tears.  It was so releasing.  I was so enlightened by this thing.  Who knew that stretching could make you cry?  Who knew that taking time for yourself and really investing in yourself could give you a second chance.  (By the way, crying during a yoga class is normal, it happens).

Around December 2013, I fell in love with myself.  Because I started to accept myself.  I took the time to do something uncomfortable and gained my sanity.  I also fell in love with yoga.  I started to take 90 minutes of my life three to four times a week to be ‘patient’ and ‘breathe’.  It’s now March 2014 and I owe a lot of my reduced stress and confidence to yoga and what the practice has allowed for me to accomplish thus far.

Downward Dog
Downward Dog

I wish I could show the girl I was a year ago the pictures I posted here of who I am today.  Because chances are, she wouldn’t recognize me.  She wouldn’t believe me if I told her that the very same thing that she was laughing at and dismissed because she was uncomfortable was the very same thing that gave her a second chance in life and confidence in herself.  It was the very same thing that made her brave.  It is the very same thing that led her to open up her heart and start this blog.

I would recommend to anyone with an ounce of stress, worry or depression to try a week of meditative yoga.  Who knows, maybe it can help you.  It made me realize what is really important in life (my health, sanity, and happiness in my marriage) and that we don’t have to get hung up and go crazy about the little things.  You are a wholesome human being, you have only this life to live.  Make it the way you want it.  Focus on being the best you and do what you care about.  It’s only been 5 months of me going to yoga and I’ve come so far.  I can’t wait to see where I am a year from now!  Actually, I can ;).

Chaturanga
Chaturanga
Baddha Konasana (I'm more meditative here)
Baddha Konasana
(I’m more meditative here)

As for the week-long toilet seat argument?  Who cares.  Namaste.

Loren. 

I.

I always make time for my whiteboard

Growing up and living in New York means that life can sometimes become a little hectic. (understatement?)

The truth is that life is moving at an incredibly fast pace where no one will wait for you.  There are so many things that we need to accomplish before its deadline and have so many things that need to be done now.  I feel that we are always simultaneously either living in the past, “shoot!  I forgot to wish my aunt a happy birthday yesterday,” or in the future, “gosh!  I need to find time to call my aunt to wish her a happy belated birthday.”  Rarely do we ever live in the present.  And this is something that I have caught myself doing numerous times.  Worrying about what we have to do, what we should have done, and what we will have to do all at once would drive anyone crazy and give them anxiety.  But what if we can sit and plan and do some of those things later?  What if we can learn how to control all the ‘crazy’ and make it ‘calm’, cutting ourselves some slack and giving ourselves some well-deserved peace of mind?  I think we can.  At least, I have.  I’ve already done the first step; I’ve accepted what I really am: human. The second?  Managing self expectations and taking the time to set them for the most important person out there: me.

For many years, I drove myself insane because I felt that I needed to be a robot.  I felt that I didn’t need to ‘write things down’ or ‘plan’ anything; I believed I could handle it all without boggling myself down with a ‘game plan’.  I believed that I had the memory of a thousand wise men who could offer you up a quote at the drop of a dime.  But then, I found myself reading articles about the best Ginkgo Biloba out there to help boost my memory and doing Sudoku puzzles any chance I had to keep my brain engaged and ready for the future.  And that was the problem.  I never stopped.  I kept going and going.  I was not living in the present.

The mentality I lived with caused me to build a lot of anxiety over the years and make me stress out about everything.  It eventually lead my body and mind rebel against me in the form of anxiety/panic attacks, because I felt like I could not handle the overwhelming amount of tasks I had to do. Who knew that having ‘pride’ would lead to the demise of my own happiness and health?

Enter the whiteboard.

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Yes, it’s a little messy but let me tell you how this thing has helped change my life.

Before this little invention entered my home, I was constantly writing things down on post-it notes (which would get lost), add any kind of a reminder on to my phone’s ‘to-do’ list (that Siri would never remind me of), and send calendar invites to my husband for any dinner plans, doctor appointments, family gatherings, etc (that he sometimes claimed he never got).  I was completely embracing technology but was becoming so dependent on it.  I felt like my life was automated.  But yet, I felt like I was so out of the loop.  Honestly, this would just leave me feeling so overwhelmed and helpless.  I started to become short tempered out of frustration and started blaming my husband for not being on top of things that I should have been on top of.  So many arguments ensued.  So.many.  And this was definitely not a healthy way of living, physically nor mentally.  So, one evening, my cousin and I went to The Container Store, started strolling down the aisles (yes, this is recreational) and saw the whiteboard staring at me.  I have been playing with the idea of getting organized with it for a while, but was never brave enough to accept that I needed it, not to mention brave enough to convince my husband that we needed it (and I mean like actually convince, not whine-convince ;)).

So, I bought it, finally took the plastic off of it about a month ago and spoke to my husband about how this was going to help me and how it was going to help us (side note: living with another human puts a lot more stress on what you already have on your plate).  So, I promised that once a week I would sit down and write out what is going on for the following week.  Underneath it, one side would have ‘chores’ that needed to be done around the house (or in general) and the other side would hold ‘communication’ topics that we needed to discuss.  Assignments were agreed upon together and if I wasn’t sure of something, he would help me figure it out (by the way, in a marriage, this is gold).

Yes, my whiteboard helps me make time to catch up, live in the present and plan my week.  It allows for me to look at the next couple of days one by one and is hung somewhere where both me and my husband can easily see it.  I don’t need to whip out my phone (hoping that it’s charged!) to get my week at a glance.  It’s there, hanging on a wall by our kitchen, for us to always pass by and see.  I am actually happy of the subliminal messaging it starts to become because it just yells out “you got this” and reassures me that I do, indeed, have this.  And the best part of it all?  My husband can go ahead and write any chores he wants and any topics he wants to talk about and I won’t.freak.out.  So long we take the time to discuss and plan.

I know what to expect of my week.  My expectations (and his expectations) are managed.  Nothing is coming to me out of left-field and I feel such a huge weight off of my shoulders.  Oh, and the next best part?  I can erase it all at the end of the week and start with a new, clean canvas.  It is very therapeutical.

What I want to say with all of this is that I am proud that I took a step back and realized what was causing me a lot of anguish throughout the week, heck, throughout the day:  panic and uncertainty.  I also realized that it’s OK for me to not think that I’m a robot.  And I actually like it!  I am enlightened by the fact that I am capable of taking my life by the reigns and being able to live in the present.  I now have a piece of mind.  Some things can be done later because they were planned as such.  Being true to yourself takes a lot of bravery.  But what you get out of it, MAN, it is truly enlightening.  I am so happy I am finding myself.  And living with much less anxiety.

I always make time for my whiteboard.

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Loren.

m.

my heart will beat fast and I will be stronger than it

This morning I ran to ‘train’ for my 4-mile race in Central Park on April 6th.
And truth be told, I had tears coming down my cheeks during this shot of me below when I was running:

this

Why would someone cry when they run?  Well, because today I was bigger than my anxiety.  I was brave.

Last summer I suffered a major anxiety attack (something I wish no one ever has to go through, yet sadly,  it affects so many Americans) and I was afraid of ever getting my heart to race again.  In case you have never had an anxiety attack before, let me quickly tell you how it goes down (at least, for me).  First, your mind starts to over-think things.  And then suddenly, you find yourself freaking out.  It could be about anything.  Your mind then gets stronger and takes over all of you.  For me, it starts to freeze up my fingers, contorting them to bend at different angles, and then stay that way.  It is usually accompanied by a painful pull at my forearms that I cannot bare.  I then start to scream “I cannot breathe!” and am literally gasping for air.  My heart is racing at a speed that I don’t ‘think’ I can control and becomes very uncomfortable.  It’s kind of like a suspense movie that is going on internally in your body, just about to climax, everything is coming to a boiling point, the music gets higher and higher in pitch, and then…. it never climaxes.  You are just stuck.  Scary situation, huh? It is.

The only way for it to go away is by relaxing, slowly breathing in and out, and bringing reality back to your mind.  You have to play mind games… with.your.own.self.  It’s a battle that s u c k s.  But it does happen and when it does, you have to control it.  Yoga helped me with controlling this (I’ll post about that another day).  But boy, oh boy, does anxiety stink.

So today I cried during my run.  Because today was the first time that I ran since last summer.  Today was the first time I accepted that my heart will beat fast.  Yes, I was afraid and I knew it was going to be uncomfortable.  But I did it.  And nothing.bad.happened.

NOTE: I am not a runner (by any means!  I even found that I wail around my legs and arms when I run!), but for many years I’ve always wanted to run a 5K (I know, crazy).  And recently, with this second wind, it made me realize that this is something that will fulfill me and my life.  This is something I always said I wanted to do and will prove to myself that I can do it.  I am willing to be uncomfortable to fulfill this thing inside me.  To be honest, I’m not quite sure where this will take me, but that’s the beauty of life.  And I am so happy that I am learning this now.  I was brave to sign up for a 4-mile race (eep!), but I am enlightened by what training for it will do for me and what it has, with one little run this morning, already done for me.

My heart will beat fast and I will be stronger than it.

Loren.