Not Comparing Myself to Myself

I notice as I start feeling better, I add more good things in. When depression is going on, I’m not able to do much, but I don’t get worked up about it anymore. I tend to tell myself it will get done when it gets done. Whatever it is. I tend to set a goal of one thing on those days. It might just be “take care of the kids the best you can”. Which really isn’t a just, but in the list of things I can do in a day, it’s pretty short. This week is an awesome

Week, by contrast, and I’ve been cleaning and organizing the house, cooking meals, practicing at Shanteel everyday, and running errands during the day. A bad week tends to find me sleeping, making sandwiches or leftovers for dinner, and helping with the kids as best I can. Yoga practice tends to be forward folds all day (great for depression) and lots of yoga nidra. It works.

With this being a good week, I’m refocusing on diet. I can only add things in when I can focus, and depression makes it really hard to focus. I started intermittent fasting last week – no eating past 7:00 PM, and smoothies for breakfast (I never eat breakfast) to cut down on coffee and start the day with a vitamin boost. I’m making sure I’m taking all my vitamins because they make suuuch a difference in moods. But again, shit like this is hard when it is. I’m eating Buddha bowls again, and I’m cutting back on cheese and meat. I genuinely don’t like how addicted to cheese I am.

The biggest difference is I trust myself now. I don’t stress if I don’t get to Shanteel, because I know I’ll go back. I don’t stress that I didn’t do anything, because I trust I will. There’s so much less fighting that way and I bounce back so much more quickly. I am getting away from comparing for any other reason then reporting symptoms to my doctor. It doesn’t matter what I did yesterday in context of today. Yesterday, I did a lot, but that doesn’t mean today I have to. I’m not in competition with myself or anyone anymore. Today is a day, and when I can look at each day With fresh eyes, it’s like a whole new level of freedom.

I use the good times to build habits I can lean on in the opposite times. The simple things like basic hygiene can be challenging on days I don’t even want to get out of bed. So, I try to simplify everything then. I take really good care of myself when I can and assume it balances out when I can’t. The end.

Sometimes, it gets frustrating watching these fluxes. I wonder what my kids think

When they watch me go from Supermom to ZombieMom. But I remind myself: what if any of them grow up with similar struggles? Do I want to teach them to criticize and judge themselves? Or do I want to show them

Acceptance and love no matter what? No one is the same day to day, we just tell ourselves that and hold ourselves to standards that don’t actually exist anywhere besides our minds.

It’s amazing how comfortable it is when the good times and the bad times aren’t that big of a deal. The amount of energy I’d waste hiding the symptoms, escaping the symptoms, or lying to myself… I actually can do so much more now just from saving that energy and being myself As I am that day Being comfortable in your own skin and mind is a freedom that so few can enjoy. With or without mental illness.

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A Tale of Synchronicity (Part 2)

A Tale of Synchronicity (Part 1)

Yesterday, I wrote about the overall connections and experience of the mural. Today, I am honored to share the poem inspired by the mural. This poem was written sitting indian style watching Leah & Rachel paint at about midnight or so at Shanteel Yoga Sanctuary. 

I don’t think I have ever written a poem more easily. The words fell out of my pen. This mural is a vortex of honesty, inspiration, and authenticity. It’s as if your soul has to leap out of your mouth by its side. Shanteel has that effect on you. There is no room for a mask in her. Our hearts and souls are in every brushstroke, and I’m so honored to have been included in the manifestation. Now, on to the poetry!

Feel free to subscribe to my new YouTube channel – I will be posting more original poetry, and possibly doing some random videos. 

Synchronicity

When you close your eyes, what do you see?

The glistening pools of infinity,

Or are you mourning upon a desolate sea?

Where do you come from?

Who is your home?

Where is the space between you and your soul?

Who are you without the name you were given?

What is the space between your heart and your living?

Have you ever met someone and found destiny?

Did anyone tell you you’re too blind to see,

Cascading the ripples in your blackened sea,

Triggering a sensation of the web binding you and me?

There’s no time too distant

No day too long

No one to break it

The ties too strong

Breathe in, embrace it

Breathe out, face it

Your destiny has happened,

Don’t let your thoughts replace it.

The wheels start turning

The moment sparks ignite

Let presence consume you

The wrongs will always be right

Trust in yourself

Trust in other

The world is creation

A space beyond limitation

See the human behind the eyes

Rise above your own wolf lie cries

We’re a tapestry interwoven, perfection’s bliss

Spots on canvas, lips of inspiration’s kiss

Paint your dreams into realities color

See yourself when you hear another

When you close your eyes, know it’s the space you’re creating

A dream in the stars, or nightmares unabating

In the darkest night, the dawn of new moon

Open your heart, let your dreams make you swoon

Whisper dreams to the brightest star

Trusting and Knowing that’s who you are

Make your wish, it is granted

As a tree born when the seed is planted

As stardust in sky, your tears were collected

Remove the dust cloths of the dreams you neglected

Our Mother will guide you to divine destination

The only delay is your own hesitation

Feel the wisdom inside of this rhyme

The only separation is the illusion of time.

Social Media Links – Let’s connect!!!

Daina (OurBeautifulLies)- WordPress, My personal FB, OBL Blog Page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Rachel – Instagram

Leah – Instagram, Facebook

If you are nearby, please experience: Shanteel Yoga Sanctuary – Website, Facebook

A Tale of Synchronicity (Part 1)

If synchronicity is an unfamiliar term, I’ll summarize it like this: seemingly unconnected events that work together to put you in the best (or worst) place possible. Carl Jung said, “Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see” For me, it has always been: everything happens for a reason. Synchronicity taught me to come away from the illusion of instant gratification and trust everything serves to bring me where I’m supposed to be, even if it makes absolutely no sense at the time. It makes it easier for me to relax and be present in the moment. Synchronicity is often talked about it relation to repeating numbers, probably the most popular one is 11:11

There is no end to possibility when you trust that all is well. I could not say that until I finally stopped doubting myself – I was seeing repeating numbers constantly and literally asking out loud “What the hell could possibly be okay, I’m a mess!!!!” and it wasn’t until I accepted I do not know better than the universe, and if She’s telling me everything’s okay, I should say thank you. Once that click happened, every piece of the puzzle I will attempt to tell fell into place within months. This story is a series of dominoes, with even more connections I am leaving out for the sake of clarity and brevity.

Leah Painting

Did you ever meet someone and have a feeling they are meant to be in your life? I have always held a belief that everyone I meet is for a purpose because I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I learned this when 19 and placed my first daughter with her adoptive parents. I understood the pain was worth it, because if I had not dated her biological father, I would never have met my husband and had my three children. I have always been able to find the bright side of life, so to speak, and I have always found when I sought it, I would find it rather quickly.

That was until I met a man named Jake. I cannot explain why I felt the way I did about him, or why I allowed the relationship to become what it was. He somehow a catalyst to me going on a journey of looking harshly at myself in the mirror, healing my traumas, battling my demons, whatever term you’d like to use. I finally started writing again after giving up on myself, I stopped killing myself with alcohol and eating disorders, allowing myself to be used by men, and on and on. I started, instead, practicing yoga, meditation, journaling, and on and on. The pain of unrequited love is exquisite. It pushes you to darkness you did not know existed. There are so many songs and works of art distilled from the place of a broken heart. Sometimes I would joke my emotional poetry about him alone was worth the price of admission.

I’ve spent two and a half years becoming myself. After my life shattered and I went to the mental hospital again, I tried to rebuild the pieces. I scrapped that and decided to just be who I wanted to be, instead of what everyone had told me I should be. I think that is a journey we all must go on. Maybe not to the extremes I had to go to, but I’m stubborn. I really liked being miserable, clearly. I’ve always been grateful to him for that.

The pain of Jake helped me become who I am, but I struggled with accepting that as closure. I could not get over this dude, it was like MRSA. It would get a little better, then come back with more crap. I spent 2 years pining for a man who literally told me over and over he did not love me. I spent 2 years begging, messaging, stalking?, a dude that blocked me, rejected me, etc. But this taught me how pain and beauty are an inseparable process. Pain teaches you to appreciate the beauty, and beauty heals the pain.

This week, the pain taught me to appreciate the beauty when this journey and chapter came to a close. I had met a woman named Rachel through Jake. I kept in touch with her since  because the second I met her, I knew she was special. Have you ever had that? Where you just know this person is meaningful? We barely saw each other – 2 times since! But, she stayed in my heart and mind thanks to Facebook. She posted an incredible mural earlier this year. My friend Claudine, who owns Shanteel Yoga Studio, mentioned she wanted a mural, so I did not hesitate to recommend Rachel.

This is Rachel’s first mural. If you don’t see why I recommended her immediately and why Claudine hired her immediately, please get your eyes checked. It’s almost impossible to believe she and Leah could outdo this!

A few months later, Rachel and her friend Leah began work on one of the most beautiful and inspiring pieces of art I have ever seen. When I think of synchronicity, I think of stars aligning. It’s a series of events that put you in a place you are meant to be. In this instance, Jake put me in a place to meet two women who created a masterpiece, and changed my life for the better. The three of us – Rachel, Leah, and I – spent the week of the mural creation bonding,  inspiring, and changing each other’s lives. I am not exaggerating when I say, I’d go through this all over again for this project, and to meet these women. The pain I have overcome makes the appreciation of the sweetness, beauty, and magic that much more pleasant.

I keep thinking this is only the beginning. This mural came from a place of healing, opening our hearts, and expressing our souls. The only way this is possible is from synchronicity. I went from doubting myself, doubting my belief in how the world works, to seeing I was being impatient. Everything happens in the time it must. There were so many pieces of this puzzle that had to fall in place. Shanteel opening, Rachel painting, Leah and Rachel meeting, and me recommending them. The synchronicity of these events alone is a magnificent work of art, and my words don’t do it justice. The mural they created, the poetry it is inspiring, the healing, and the loving connections and community this is building is transcendent. A chance meeting while I was on a bad date began a  journey towards immortality. Leah, Rachel and I put our souls in the mural. In art and love, we are eternal.

This story taught me the greatest lessons: patience, trust, but most importantly: to appreciate the ever present reality of synchronicity – this week gave us all eyes to see it.

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Please follow along as I develop this story further. This is one tiny piece of the mural, a silly selfie of me (glasses) and my two new sisters.  We will all be unveiling more pictures across our social media in the coming days. They say a picture says a thousand words, but I say this one has only one word: Joy! Please follow us on this amazing journey by following these links and experiencing beautiful art:

Daina (OurBeautifulLies)- WordPress, My personal FBOBL Blog Page on FacebookTwitterInstagram

Rachel – Instagram

Leah – Instagram, Facebook

If you are nearby, please experience: Shanteel Yoga Sanctuary – Website, Facebook

Using Your Body to Discipline Your Mind

Yesterday was Summer Solstice. At my yoga studio, Shanteel, we did 108 Sun Salutations to welcome summer. This was my second time – the first was for Spring Equinox. It’s a very challenging practice, taking about 2 hours to complete. It’s also deeply healing and eye opening.

Yoga is not about getting in better shape, although it helps. It’s not even about getting in proper postures, or looking like the Instagram pictures. Yoga teaches using the body to discipline the mind. I think when any of us are doing something repetitive and challenging, our brains love to comment on its difficulty and our inability to do it. If we listen to the chatter, the difficulty grows exponentially. Every ache, muscle, etc becomes screaming resistance.

It becomes a mind over matter situation, and yoga demonstrates this perfectly. As I was thinking how hard this was, I was struggling until I caught myself. I went to child’s pose, rested, and changed my internal monologue to a simple “I can do this”. I whispered it to myself as I was in downward facing dog. Eventually, thoughts ceased and all that remained was the sensation of my body, with my eyes closed, moving through the postures. I became focused solely on alignment and positioning, and allowed myself to just move without commentary. I stopped when needed for water or rest, but I was acutely aware of how many more sun salutations I did, how few rests I took, and how much my practice improved since spring.

I didn’t have to modify by dropping my knee in lunges, I could stay up. I was keeping my elbows hugged in for transition. More importantly, my internal monologue became kind and encouraging as opposed to critical and belittling.

Nowadays, it seems difficult to hear ourselves think. I didn’t notice it until I started meditating. I never noticed how critical and mean I was. On the outside, I was so nice to everyone, but on the inside, I was downright mean. This sets you up for terrible projections. If you are constantly criticizing and hating yourself internally, you’ll project those feelings unconsciously on the people you love. Their words and interactions will be perceived with negative intents where none were present. It’s inevitable.

It’s only by bringing awareness to the mental chatter that you can change it. Yoga helps because as much as you may feel good after a practice, it’s rare you want to contort your body in bizarre ways, sweat in places you didn’t know you could, all while trying to breathe and quiet your mind. My mind loves to tell me how hard it all is, yet not once have I lost a limb or died in practice. I generally get sore and relaxed.

This experience carries into day to day, as you become more aware of your monkey brain and realize that your thoughts are messing with your reality. Sure, my house is messy, but in my thoughts, it’s an insurmountable Mount Everest of dishes and laundry, my kids are bound and determined to drive me insane with messes, and I’ll never ever know what it’s like to be done cleaning. In reality, some music and a few hours of focus gets me where I need to be.

I never would have thought I’d be capable of 108 sun salutations. I remember struggling to even commit to 3 as I practiced on YouTube. I was scared of even joining a yoga studio. I thought I was too fat, too this, too that to join a studio. I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep up with the classes. Yet, there I was, in reality, flowing through 108 sun salutations with my community.

If I had listened to my brain, I wouldn’t have a family at Shanteel. I wouldn’t have found my home, where I go to find myself daily. I wouldn’t have found my strength or beauty. I would have just sat around letting my brain kick my ass, as opposed to kicking my ass on the mat to see how much further I can go beyond my thoughts.

Last night was even more special for me. I promised myself I was going. I negotiated if I had to miss regular classes, I’d go. Because this is the week after my period, which means it’s depression week. Awareness of my cycle has helped me plan around my hormones. I know these weeks are tough for me. My energy is low, my mood is typically low, and life is harder than usual. My house is a mess, because I didn’t have the energy to keep up. My kids are home, and I had to let them do screens more than I’d like so I could rest more than usual.

Normally, depression weeks are harder to practice yoga for all these reasons. I’ve promised myself to try to get to 2-3 classes/week versus my normal 5-7. I’ve promised myself to rest without judgement, and listen to my body without criticism. I had to nap most of the day yesterday, but I got to the 108. All day, I was thinking of reasons I couldn’t or shouldn’t. All day, my brain wouldn’t shut up, and all day, I had to ignore it, because I promised myself I was going.

Depression used to be a call for mania, where I would force myself to hide everything away and pretend everything was great. I’d pile on activities and do anything to distract myself and hide it. Depression was 75% of the time for me. As I pushed, intrusive thoughts would begin screaming at me, I’d become suicidal, and driving would be a challenging experience of internally telling myself why driving into a phone pole or oncoming traffic was a terrible idea. Once I stopped that insanity, and allowed myself to feel depression, I became aware of how debilitating it was. I felt sad for all my body has been through as I fought. Once I accepted depression as a state I go through, episodes become shorter and less debilitating.

After about a year of regular yoga practice, almost 2 years of regular meditation, etc etc. I just did 108 sun salutations while I was having a bout of depression. This practice is about releasing what no longer serves you. What no longer serves me is telling myself I can’t be everything I want to be. What no longer serves me is being a slave to my thoughts and endless brain chatter. I am way, way stronger than I think I am. We all are. The only true limits that exist are the stories we tell ourselves.

Don’t be a Slave to Should

5 years ago, I went to the hospital for bronchitis. Over the course of a week, my “normal” life was flipped upside down. The hospital cold turkey’d me off the lexapro I was taking, because I had finally accepted after decades of hell that the depression was more than “just being lazy” or “needing to stop being a baby”.

Lexapro withdrawal can be pretty severe. The hospital mistook my withdrawal symptoms for a worsening cold. They were giving me klonopan and finally asked me (as I’m laying in a hospital bed) why I wasn’t taking the lexapro. Things worsened. I started having panic attacks, I couldn’t walk myself to the bathroom from being so dizzy. The albuterol for breathing made me felt like I was on speed, and my cough was so bad, I burst blood vessels in my eye and started having migraines. Things came to a head when I called my mom at 5 am hysterical because I could no longer pee and had a catheter. After I got discharged, I was a wreck. I had never had a panic attack before that hospital stay.

When I was discharged, I had them constantly. I had no coping skills, I had never seen a therapist or psychiatrist. My panic attacks can make me twitch and stutter. This hospitalization led to my first stay in the mental hospital, because nothing could stop the panic attacks. Ativan, Xanax, Klonopan, nothing helped. I began hearing, what I described as, voices telling me to kill myself. Many years later, I’d learn these were intrusive thoughts, something I had deemed myself as crazy for since they started happening when I was a teenager.

5 years later, I am a walking DSM-V. I don’t take any shit from doctors, because I’ve been through too much to be talked down to. I advocate for myself by speaking intelligently about my symptoms. By referring to intrusive thoughts as “voices”, I was diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder at the mental hospital. That is schizophrenia and bipolar combined. I was put on a cocktail of anti-psychotic medication and basically was so drugged, I practically drooled on myself. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared and convinced I was crazy as I was then.

Crazy is the word that I’ve run from my whole life. I think the biggest hurdle to treatment is not knowing that what you deal with on a daily basis doesn’t have to be that way. Imagine if you only ever saw the sky as green. How could anyone help you see or understand it’s actually blue? The way my brain works is how it works, and I blamed myself for all the faults and problems. This is how suicide can come to be. I’m nothing short of blessed that my suicidality never succeeded, and that went on until literally my last hospital stay in January 2017, as I was trying to strangle myself with my hoodie strings in the horsham clinic bathroom.

It’s difficult to convey what it’s actually like in my brain. Five years ago, I was forced to start talking. I didn’t tell the doctors about the constant bulimia combined with hours at the gym, because I was obsessed with not being fat. I didn’t talk about how I was working 80 hours a week, cleaning my house constantly because it had to be right, and in constant fights with my husband. I blamed it on the hospital stay. I didn’t tell the doctors how much I wished I was dead, or how most days I cried before I got out of bed, cried in the shower, and cried myself to sleep. I definitely didn’t tell them how afraid I was of being crazy because deep down I knew I wasn’t okay.

5 years later, none of this is my reality, and I am really glad that hospital stay fucked me up so badly. I don’t know how else I could have been forced to say the three words that can change your life: “I need help.”

We all like to think we can handle it all. Kids, jobs, home, life, society etc. but the truth is, we all need help. None of us can do it alone. Yoga has shown me just in the last few months how I still don’t like to ask for help – even from a brick wall, foam block, or a cloth strap. I don’t like to go to child’s pose. But Monday night, I was forced to child’s pose, because my body was done, like my mind had been done all those years before. I wasn’t beating myself up about it, I just knew I needed to listen to myself and take the help of the floor.

This must have been weighing on me this morning, because I had a panic attack first thing. No twitching, no stuttering, no two week hospital stay. 10 minutes of meditation with alternate nostril breathing every hour, yoga nidra, and letting the kids be lazy while I

Took care of myself, without guilt trips of

What we should or could be doing. I know what I need, and I know if I don’t listen, I can go to the hospital. There’s no more fighting through it for me. The kids will see me

Have bad days, and they will see me

Cope, and God willing, they’ll follow the example I set now. There is nothing like the self induced hell you create when you push yourself beyond your capacity while telling yourself it should be better. Some days you can barely be mom, let alone super mom. Some days, you do let the kids be lazy because you gotta be lazy.

Don’t be a slave to should. Honor yourself and ask for help. Even if it’s an iPhone or Thor ragnarok on a nice day. I need help is not weakness, it’s strength. Like a muscle, we all get torn and broken, but only with rest can we truly become strong.

Thanks for reading ❤️

We Are All Warriors

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My brain did not want to go to yoga tonight. My brain was a mess. Thursday and Wednesday I had two “phase six” panic attacks. My really bad panic attacks culminate in me stuttering (“i … i…. I… I can’t …I can’t..I can’t…breathe) and twitching. I haven’t had this scale of panic attack since probably January of last year. Part of my anxiety lies in hormones, and part lies in my ability to manage life. I am easily overwhelmed by just about everything. If you talk to me, you will smile and laugh – because I smile a lot and I am funny. What you will not often see is me twitching and stuttering. I do. It haunts me, if I allow my brain to dwell. When I talk to people, I find myself scared sometimes that they will see the “real” me. The real me that sometimes can lose an entire day to sleeping through depression, or an entire day in a crying anxious fit.

Do you see the woman in the pink shirt down there? That woman was stuttering yesterday. Yet today, she went to yoga. Why? Because she did not listen to her brain. Because she knows that these problems are temporary. These problems aren’t her. The easiest way to see her is when she is breathing through her discomfort – in warrior II or a phase 6 panic attack. The real me is both calm and a chaotic mess. I love all of me, because the chaotic mess brought me to yoga today.

Shanteel brought me to yoga today. If I was practicing at home, I could have talked myself out of it. I have friends there now, and I wanted to see my friends. I didn’t need to tell them about my panic attacks – I was overjoyed to see them, hug them, and gush about Alan Watts to them. I got to be strong with them.

I cannot be anything that I am without the strengths and weaknesses that make me who I am. If I did not have those crippling panic attacks: attacks which have hospitalized me a literal handful of times, attacks that have pushed me to the verge of nearly killing myself…I would not have found yoga. I would not have found meditation. I would not have found that I am not my panic attack. I am not my anxiety. I am not my depression.

I am a human being. I have highs and lows like everyone else. No one sees the mess but me, and no one can love the mess better than me. Chaos creates balance. I would not come to my mat if I did not know I needed to find myself on my mat.

It is not often you find a psychiatrist who is supportive and encouraging of holistic health. My doctor was thrilled when I joined the studio, saying “This is everything you need to help you find your footing and your way forward.” I have had no end of issues with medications between side effects, reactions, and feeling as though my soul itself was turned off and I was a fleshy robot. My doctor is trying to find a medicine to support me without changing me. He is also encouraging me to try supplements and be mindful of my diet: Tumeric for anxiety/depression, Fish Oil, Magnesium (Epsom salt baths or a topical oil), and I’m going to add B12. (Note: do your own research, talk to your own doctor, I am a woman wearing Pilsbury Dough Boy pajama pants relaying my personal supplement path. I am not a medical professional – I am a pajama professional)image

He says, “everything you do affects your mind. Many doctors think only medication can work, but let’s say diet and exercise offers 5% better results, why wouldn’t we get you that 5% too? I do not want you on medication your whole life. My job is to help you find stability.”It can take anywhere from 1 to over 2 years to recover from psychosis, and no doctor has technically stabilized me yet.

However, I am stable. See me in that pose? My diagnoses are one facet of my life, and it’s a big facet: this affects relationships, day to day life, etc. I have felt isolated and scared most of last year until I found support. “It takes a village” does not apply to only children. We all need community.

The community I have found is helping me stay out of the hospital and on my mat. How does one express gratitude for that? By coming to your mat. My mat and this community are helping me see the light and strength in me.

Strength is not hiding the mess. Strength is awareness of the mess and loving her. Living her. No matter what her brain says. I’m not my brain, either.

I am a warrior because we are all warriors. We all fight battles we don’t see. We don’t share. We don’t sometimes even know. We will only know it if we stare at the chaos in stillness and breath. Every warrior has scars, and I’m so grateful to never, ever be ashamed of those scars. Look how far we’ve come.

Thank you to anyone who reads and shares my journey with me. Writing always makes me feel like myself. Calmly Chaotic 😊

Namaste.

Gratitude is not an attitude

This morning’s focus at yoga was gratitude. If the massive nor’easter hitting me in PA and surrounding states hasn’t been a huge call for gratitude for all of us; I don’t know what could. I’m so thankful for the teachers at my kids school, all schools that stayed with the kids and obviously put their own safety at risk with driving to make sure everyone was safe. I cannot imagine the fear and anxiety for the bus drivers with loads of (I’m sure noisy) kids driving in this mess and getting them all home safely. There were so many cars abandoned, so many without power, some were stuck in their cars for hours. I’m thankful for the people out in this to restore power. I’m thankful for the doctors and nurses and anyone who had to work regardless of the weather that make our lives what they are. Most of all,I am thankful my family is warm, safe, snuggled up and snoozing while I am up late listening to the wind sing. I’m grateful for the eerie quiet with the roaring wind. It’s breathtaking.

In all of this, we can see a call for annoyance or one for gratitude. In gratitude, we can start to see reality as opposed to the illusions we live under in our ego mind. However, you must consistently apply gratitude in all situations, so It becomes second nature. But really, nature. We were all made to enjoy this world and live it and we often focus on the negative aspects of life. I know I have often struggled. Like every skill or practice, you need to retrain your brain. With consistency and discipline to always seek gratitude regardless of your externals.

My biggest saving grace from the mental hospital was starting to journal again and writing at least 3 gratitudes a day. It became 3 pages and I started feeling huge shifts. It’s an easy practice to forget though. This is why yoga helps us all find our true joy and happiness. It teaches us to slow down and breathe. Feel how much you can do when you breathe. Feel how much you can do in stillness. Accept your mind. Be present, so you can see all the gifts, blessings…. in our lives every day. If you practice this daily, this is an amazing first step in quieting your ego to see your true authentic self. It is a key factor in staying in the present. It reduces anxiety. This is an amazing, low energy/low key way to help starting climbing out of the next unexpected sinkhole or life. I went from wishing for my car to veer into a telephone pole to writing and journaling consistently. This is all a journey of learning.

As the storm was ramping up, I was lying in savasana allowing all I am thankful for to surface. Me. My kids. Evan. Shanteel. All of my new friends and family. The list was so big immediately I started crying. A year ago, and really most of my life, I felt like a dead girl walking. Now, I’m smiling at the wind, grateful I have so many blankets. Grateful I can write this for anyone who likes my writing. Grateful I can write

In the storms of our lives, external and internal, we are always the eye of the storm. We are always the calm in the storm. The best way to see that is to stay thank you for reminding me I am stronger than I think I am and more importantly, thank you for for reminding me how to love.

Gratitude is not an attitude, it’s a way of life.

If you want to stop focusing on your ego, start saying thank you and see how much we all truly need one another to survive. We aren’t islands.

Namaste everyone. Hope you are all warm and safe. So thankful for you all.

These two songs nail it 😊

https://youtu.be/u05S9cq2bLY

21 Days Makes a Habit

A metaphor for my life is an adorable little squirrel gathering nuts into a precise pile just to have something scatter all those nuts. Inevitably, the squirrel restarts gathering nuts and attempting to figure out what to do with the nuts, and I’ve said nuts a lot now…

In January 2017, psychosis allowed me to see what it is like to actually go nuts. For the last year, I’ve been so fucked up, I forgot I was a squirrel. Or maybe, I am a human who should stop thinking of herself as a squirrel. (note to self)

Not a day goes by that I am not haunted by questions or memories. How exactly does one go back to their day job when they see something and question if anyone else actually sees it too? That’s me, or maybe that was me. I don’t know. Weirdly enough, “I don’t know” is the gift of psychosis. I don’t know what happened to me, I don’t know if it will happen again, I don’t know why I heard demons on the radio, and I don’t know what is wrong with me.  As a type A control freak, those are a lot of identified variables to keep me up at night. For most of the last year, that’s what I focused on. It was eating me alive – mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was paralyzed by fear, sadness, shame, and pain.

quote-no-one-is-more-dangerously-insane-than-one-who-is-sane-all-the-time-he-is-like-a-steel-alan-watts-47-80-69Deep down, I know I have the answers. I fought through this by not fighting. For once in my life, I accepted everything. After my mind and everything that seemed real shattered in a month-long grip of psychosis, I accepted it all. When my car got totalled by yet another shitty dude in a long list of shitty dudes, I accepted it. When I decided I needed to move back in with my ex-husband because I was incapable of caring for myself, let alone my three kids, I accepted it. Most recently, when I was let go from the job I had for over 10 years due to not being able to come back to work, I accepted it. When I couldn’t write, practice yoga, or meditate, I accepted it. I was terrified I was going to become some sort of lazy slob, but deep down I felt that I was supposed to be still, be quiet, and be patient. Every day, I fought a really weird war of laziness. To do something or not to do something, that is the argument. I was going from Type A Control Freak to learning what it means to go with the flow.

It was not until I started focusing on what I did – actually did every day, as opposed to what I did NOT do every day. I realized if I wanted to start rebuilding, I had to start at the beginning. I thought creating this blog would help, but every time I tried to write it was like starting a car with a dead battery. I had no inspiration because I don’t even know who I am anymore, let alone what I want, and so forth.

“I” wasn’t there. Or, I guess the truth is, “I” was there, the real me wasn’t. I – my ego – is completely concerned with success, results, accolades, etc. The real me is concerned with smiling, breathing, and being grateful. The real me sees beauty in every moment, “I” want results.

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Yoga taught me to see my ego results in little ways – instead of seeking instant gratification or pushing myself beyond my limits. Yoga shows incremental growth and impermanence. Every day, something is new and every day, it changes. One day, I might balance really well. The next day, I might fall, but I did a plank really well. It doesn’t matter because really, I’m overjoyed to simply be on my mat. A few months ago, I would wander around my house aimlessly and depressed, and I’m on my mat. So, literally, everything I do on the mat is growth. If I were to practice yoga from my ego, I’d quit right away, because I “suck”, I can’t do this and I can’t do that, and I am fat. Yoga doesn’t let me do that, though. Now my ego can shut up – cause look who’s writing now too?

All of this was not possible until I joined Shanteel Yoga Sanctuary. I joined on January 26th. 1 year prior, I was standing in a mental hospital trying to kill myself convinced I had ruined everything in my life. I went to my first class on the 29th. I was shaking and having a mild panic attack on the way. Worst case scenarios, farting, mooning a studio full of yoga experts, and so forth charged through my head in a 10-minute drive. When I checked out the studio, I had chills and all I could hear in my brain was “home”. I reminded myself of that as I drove, and I jumped in and did my class. I didn’t fart or moon anyone, and at the end, I was a sweaty happy mess. Since that class, I’ve gone pretty much daily. Some days, I do multiple classes.

After the first class, I lost the fear of being in a class. I was surrounded by amazing people in a community. Every class is focused in spirituality. I’ve been chanting to Ganesha (remover of obstacles!) with beautiful people on Sundays in Meditation. I can get into hour long convos after class about Moon signs and astrology. It’s not to say the past year had me doing nothing because I was studying a lot. My obsession with Jung deepened as did my love of Buddha as did a newfound fascination with all things astrology. My circle of people I could talk about this to, though, was non-existent. I think the hardest part of the last year was how lonely I felt. Finding Shanteel eradicated that for me. My biggest fear became that I would do what I usually do: really get into something and give up on it, or have something happen and lose it. I know I’m always my own worst enemy. I found myself afraid I would once again rob myself of the things that bring me joy.

Thanks to the Buddha, I re-trained my brain. Today is all I need to be in. Did I practice yoga today? What am I carrying off the mat with me today? If I didn’t physically unroll my mat today, what lesson am I practicing? Am I breathing? Am I present? Am I moving my body?

All of this is possible by finding a home and a community.  I said today, I did not find a yoga studio. I found a home and a family. I had thought to practice at home was the answer, but I see now that the community and the teachers are what keep you coming to the mat.

Yesterday, it dawned on me that I have been practicing yoga consistently for 21 days. 21 days creates a habit. 21 days creates a routine. For the first time since my psychosis, I created a habit and routine. I created my foundation. I started crying last night at the realization, especially when my brain echoed, “Imagine what you can do in the next 21 days…”

21 days in the face of 365 days of pain. 21 days and I’m just getting started. I can’t wait to write this journey with you all.

What can you do in 21 days? My next post will have tips 🙂 Comments, likes, shares are always appreciated and thank you for reading!!!