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I hate exercising.  This is me when exercising:

run!

I hate it.  I hate it a lot.

Exercise and I don’t have a good history.  I think it started back in elementary school was I was more than a little pudgy and my lack of perceived athleticism created a lack of self-confidence.  For as long as I can remember, I’ve always thought of myself as not athletic.

Anyway, tomorrow I begin my latest attempt to try and get into some sort of exercise routine.  Nearly every morning for the last year I’ve looked in the mirror and berated myself for how my waist size has increased.  I’ve taken to calling it my ‘depression weight.’  It seems to happen every time.

It was last year around this time that I could feel myself turning inward and I could sense the fog beginning to descend again.  I now realize that it wasn’t so much that it came back, but that it had never really gone away.  And now that I have felt ‘normal’ again for a few months, it’s time to figure out what that new ‘normal’ looks like and how I can protect myself from going down that deep hole again.

I get angry when I think about the fall of 2011.  I started running that fall, and for some reason I actually kept up the habit for about three months. I’d never slept so well or had so much energy as I did during those months – despite my hectic schedule.  I was amazed at how well I handled the stress of exams and law school.  But then Christmas came, I went home for the break and I never went back to running.  And nine months later I could not stop crying and I could barely get out of bed.  I can’t help but think that I might have avoided that hellish period had I just kept on running.

So this time, as I begin a new exercise journey, that experience is in the back of my mind.  This time I’m not just exercising because I want to fit into my cute sundresses again – although I really do want that, too.  This time I’m exercising so that I can be me and live my life the way I want.  In a way, I’m exercising in order to keep my own freedom.  If that isn’t motivating enough, I don’t know what is.

New Year’s resolutions.

Yuck.

Seriously. Who likes making them? Like I said in my last post, New Year’s resolutions make us feel like failures. They’re idealistic lists that show us what we think we should do, what we should be like, and what we should become.

New Year’s resolutions are also rather pedestrian. Who doesn’t want to be healthier? Or slow down? Or read more? Okay – maybe not everyone wants to read more.

I’ve noticed a shift away from resolutions by some of my favourite bloggers. Instead, they choose a word or phrase to guide them throughout the year. I remember picking a word last year, but I can no longer recall what it was. Obviously it was a very meaningful word.

I’ve thinking a lot lately about how my life is currently very work-centred. This was both necessary and not all that surprising given what I am doing and the path is took to get me there. But I’ve recently become less comfortable with that, craving more balance and a better quality of life outside of work. Don’t get me wrong.  I love work – I do. But I don’t want my work to define me, and right now, it does.

After some reflection, my word for 2015 is going to be EXPLORE. I’ve had a few ideas of things I’d like to do outside of work, but I’ve never put them into action. This year, I want to focus on building my life outside of work now that I’m somewhat settled in my job and have (finally) realized that I’m not going back to school. Although I’m getting my Ph.D. in political studies with my thesis about sports and its role in political messaging. That will somehow happen.

Exploration is not without risks, though, and I fully realize that.  I will fall flat on my face doing some things, but I will be better for having tried.

May 2015 be full of discoveries and excitement!

A few weeks ago, I came across an article urging people to eschew the usual year-end resolution-fest. The reason for this was because resolutions tend remind us of all of our foibles and follies – our vices and our failures. Instead, the article asked us to reflect on the past year and ask ourselves, “What did you do this year that made you proud?”

I am generally not one to toot my own horn, so to speak. Except for when I win a bet – in those cases I can be rather insufferable. But usually, not so much. For example, I have four university degrees. That’s right. FOUR. I graduated with great distinction not once, not twice, but three times. Yet I’m more embarrassed than proud of these accomplishments, mostly because it means I was a student forever.

But even though I’m not much of a “Rah rah – goooooo me!” type of gal, I’ve been thinking a lot about what things I did this year that made me proud – and what things I did that SHOULD make me proud.

I will fully admit to being a bit envious of my siblings’ accomplishments this year. One had his first child, while the other one became engaged and is planning a wedding. In my head, my accomplishments paled in comparison.

I am such an idiot sometimes.

It’s not as if I sat around all year eating chips and ice cream and watching all seven seasons of ‘The Wesr Wing’. However, I did do those things for part of May and for the majority of June and July in the evenings when I wasn’t working (I continue to be somewhat baffled as to why my depressive episodes always begin when the weather is warm and the days are long).

So here’s a list of things of things I’m proud of and/or should be proud of accomplishing this year:

I finished articling.
I became a lawyer.
I finished tied for the top mark in my provincial bar admissions class.
I was re-hired at my firm as an associate.
I have a job and an employer that I love.
I have received kind words and referrals from my clients.
I became an aunt for the first time.
I remembered that I love to sing.
I cared for myself through a trying time this past spring and still managed to continue to work and carry on with my life.
I cultivated new friendships.
I pushed myself out of my comfort zone on a near-daily basis.
I wrote briefs of law and factums that helped clients win cases.
I pushed through even when I was terrified.
I set boundaries.
I took on a major file and have it nearly resolved after having to sort through years of inaction.
I took chances and reaped rewards.

Given how I felt at times throughout the year, I should be amazed at what I accomplished. Professionally, the year likely could not have gone better.

So here’s to me. Good job, girl. I’m proud of you.

out of the dark

 

I admitted something this week: I’ve been stable for about two months.

Two months of relative calm and peace.

I think I’m coming out of the dark.

I don’t trust it all of the time, but it’s getting easier.

Now it’s time to start remodeling my life again.  I say remodeling because while each episode results in some sort of shift, I’m still me.  I don’t know what that shift is yet, but it’ll reveal itself in time.

The title of this post is a song by Audrey Assad, whose album “Heart” contains some of my favourite songs.  “Even the Winter” is more of a relationship song, but I think it also works as a song about hope – how:

Even the winter won’t last forever
We’ll see the morning, we’ll feel the sun
We’ll wake up in April, ready and able
Holding the seeds in the soil…

I’m grateful that I seem to be waking up again.

 

 

Autumn Scene near Mountains

Every year on this day my Facebook feed fills up with people being thankful for their family, friends, partners, kids, and so on.  For whatever reason, I can’t seem to make myself do the same.

I know I’m not a terribly grateful person, although if we’re all quite honest with ourselves, I imagine few of us truly are.  I’ve come to realize that being grateful requires more than a simple post on a Facebook feed on Thanksgiving or a short prayer before a meal.  Being grateful requires reflection, and I’m not sure we’re wired that way.

A true spirit of gratitude must be cultivated; saying ‘thanks’ every once in a while does not make a grateful person.  A one point in my life, I kept a ‘gratitude journal’ for approximately one year.  Every day before I went to bed, I wrote down 5 things that I was grateful for that day.  At first it started with the usual: friends, family, food, shelter, yadda yadda yadda.  But as the year progressed, my lists became less germane and more thoughtful.  And I could sense a shift in my thinking.  Something about making that list everyday seemed to make me happier.

There’s lots of research out there that links gratitude to being happier.  Why?  Maybe it’s that being aware of all that we have to be grateful for makes us more content with our lives.  Or maybe it’s just the simple act of being more aware.  Gratitude journals force us to stop and think and actually write down those things for which we are thankful.  The act of writing makes it not only clearer in our minds, but forces us to be present for those few moments.

So what am I grateful for?  Everyday it’s something different.  These days, though, I am most grateful for being in a good place mentally and for a job and career that seems to be tailor-made for me in many ways and that I find challenging and fulfilling.  And just writing that down has put a smile on my face.

hello-im-back-again

It’s been so long since I checked on my little corner of the World-Wide-Web that I completely forgot my password to this here blog.

Oops.

Actually, I totally forgot about this blog’s existence until I was reminded of it yesterday.

If you’ve looked at the post history of this blog, you’ll quickly find that I’m a bit of a scattershot writer; I’ll write feverishly for a few weeks and then I’ll slowly slip into more of a once a week mode, followed by a now-and-then schedule, and finally I just quit writing altogether.

That pattern is true of so many things in my life.

Maybe I stop writing because I feel like I’ve said what I need to say; maybe the catharsis of writing has cleansed me of whatever emotional tangent I was on.

Or maybe I get lazy.  Or too tired.

Last summer when I stopped blogging, I stopped because I was tired.  The articling year is not an easy one, and given the amount of words I’d put into emails and memos everyday, I think I felt like I didn’t have much left to say in the evenings.

There was also the fact that my laptop keyboard was malfunctioning and finally got to the point where e\very wor\d h\ad these sl\ashes in it an\d I could ha\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\rdly type any\more.

That problem has been solved.

As I’ve said before after rather long sabbaticals from the blogosphere, coming back to my blog with fresh eyes after months away from it brings a new perspective.  Past events blur together and instead of individual posts I see an evolving sense of self and perspective.

For instance, there’s no doubt that I’ve mellowed over the years.  I was at a conference last week, sitting among a number of students who were complaining about the lack of diversity and self-congratulatory tone at the conference.  I remember being like those students are.  Now?  I’m a bit more pragmatic about what I spend my energy on, and I must admit that this realization was rather stunning.

And I suppose that same pragmatism forms the basis of my relationship to this blog these days.  It’s here when I need it.

“I have a complicated relationship with happiness.”

ME, TOO.

I’ve been ruminating on this post by Emily Maynard, “Happiness is a Virtue,” for a couple of weeks now.

Somewhere along the way, I determined that happiness was meant for everyone else but me. Furthermore, that happiness was dependent on others – on what I was worth in their eyes.  Or on what I’d accomplished or on what I could do for others.  And happiness would come later – when I was thinner, attached, or had more money.

In other words, happiness is for the perfect.

Luckily for me, the last couple of months have put a direct hit in that theory.

You see, it’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy, this content with my life.  And things are soooooooooo far from perfect.

Everyday I make mistakes.  Everyday I feel a bit overwhelmed.  Everyday I feel challenged.  And nearly every evening I am excited enough to want to do it all over again the next day.

It’s weird.  It’s so weird that I keep waiting for it to end.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that there’s a part of me that is constantly on alert, telling me that it’s all far too good to be true – that it’ll end at any moment.

And I am terrified that that part of me is right.

So I put all of my energy into desperately clinging on to this happiness, joy and sense of belonging that I haven’t felt in a long time.  And with every twinge of anxiety, every conversation with a colleague and every assignment, I’m waiting to be rejected.  Everything is a test.  I’m waiting to find out it’s not real, for the truth that I’m not worthy of this career, these people and this life.  Because that’s what I fully expect.  Deep down, it’s what I believe to be the truth.

It’s exhausting, this waiting to fail.  To be rejected.

Part of this is the lies that anxiety tells me, and other parts are just my own visions of self-worth.  But I’m trying to let this go.

This morning I finished Glennon Doyle Melton’s “Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed.” She talks about us having two voices: fear and love.  How fear always yells and wishes to be heard.  And how love, if we would let it speak to us, would say:

Stop grabbing, sweetheart. Stop holding your breath.  Breathe.  There is enough.  I’ve created an abundance of acceptance, attention, recognition, joy, peace, money, energy, clothes, food.  I will never leave you without enough. And there is nothing to be afraid of.  No feeling, no circumstance, no person. These things come and they go, and you can live through them, without running, hiding, numbing, or hurting another of my children.  And did you know this, my angel?  There has never been anything wrong with you – not one day in your life.  You are exactly who you were meant to be, right now, as you are.  You are not to be ashamed.  You punish yourself, but you have no reason to be punished.  You have done just fine.  No one want you punished.  You can stop that now.  You are free.

I am trying to stop grabbing.  To stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.  To be free.

I’m learning how to be happy.  It’s a work in progress.

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