Friday, September 29, 2017

The Art of Being Busy

 As many of you know, I've been on a little bit of a journey -- a spiritual awakening, perhaps -- moving toward self-acceptance and love.  I'm trying to spend less time criticizing myself and more time adding positivity to my life. 

One of the audio books I downloaded to help me through the last few months was Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection.  I am going to overly simplify one of the messages, but she talks about gratitude being essential for feeling joy.  This was awesome to hear since I have named this year my Year of Joy, and I have been focusing on gratitude lately.  I have often felt like "happiness" was an unattainable life goal.  No one has a constantly happy life.  But having a joyful life, which I used to call "content," is completely attainable.  It doesn't mean I don't have hard times, bad days, or sad moments.  It means my life is generally full of joy, which helps me better deal with those moments.  And those moments pass a little faster now that I am better equipped to deal with them.  I remind myself every morning and every evening of the things for which I am grateful -- mostly people, since most "things" are merely comfort items that I don't NEED to live.  I am grateful for the obvious things -- a job I enjoy, a place to live, etc.  But I am most grateful for a family that is close and friends who "get" me.  I am grateful for the experiences and adventures I get to have, and the traveling I am lucky enough to do.  I remind myself of all the good in my life, which helps me lead a more joyful life. 

One of the things Brene talks about in the book is how we use things to numb ourselves.  Some things are easy.  Food.  Alcohol.  Drugs.  Shopping.  Sex.  One caught me by surprise.  Being busy.  Overscheduling yourself is really no different than numbing your feelings with ten margaritas after work.  Holy shit.  Welcome to my life. 

I feel like I've been working on this issue for years.  It used to be that my weekends were scheduled out for months.  No joke.  If you had a party coming up, you better give me at least three months lead time, otherwise I was already going to be booked.  Every evening and each weekend was packed to the gills.  And my friends all knew.  I had them trained to give me a head's up if they were thinking about planning something.  Often, I would go from event to event, never really enjoying them, because I was thinking of where I had to be next.  So a few years ago, I tried to implement the "one thing per day rule."  Sure, sometimes I have to break the rule, but I do try hard not to over-schedule important events like birthday parties.  Also, I have made Sundays my recharge day for the most part.  Sundays generally consist of yoga, grocery shopping and hanging out with the babies.  Of course, other things come up, but I try hard not to let that become the norm. 

Although, I see how I use being busy as a numbing mechanism, how do I not do all of these things?  I have to work to pay the bills -- 40+ hours gone.  I have to work out -- yoga and pole are essential.  Hospice volunteering.  Visiting with friends and family.  Horseback riding.  Concerts -- live music makes me so happy.  NCPP planning each year.  Journaling, meditation and gratitude practice.  Weekends filled with events...  This month has been awesome: A beach adventure with the family and walking the Golden Gate Bridge.  Vegas for Pole Expo with friends.  Last weekend was epic: mermaid'ing, performing in Robert's show, attending Folsom Street Faire, and playing at Diana's gymnastics school.  This weekend I'm going to a friend's birthday party, the Renaissance Faire, Dave & Buster's fancy dress party, and am hoping to make yoga Sunday before I go see the babies.  There's a drag show Sunday night, but that has to be an optional event since I've been burning the candle at both ends lately and need to sleep sometime.  I used to say I'll sleep when I'm dead, but I'm starting to realize I'm going to BE dead if I don't sleep sometime soon!  Next weekend I'm off to San Luis Obispo for a three day yoga retreat.  While I am looking forward to it, and it will be relaxing, it is still a three to four hour drive, and all three days seemed packed with things for us to do.  The following weekend, I have the Out of the Darkness Walk at 6 AM, and then I leave for Disneyland with my family on Sunday.  We are going to be making a six plus hour drive with the kids, and then we will be in the park for two days.  The weekend after that is a pole show at Twirly Girls (although I will not be performing).  The following weekend is Disney on Ice, and a costume party with friends.  November consists of a three day weekend in Carmel with friends and Thanksgiving.  December has me returning to Carmel and then heading to Vegas with the family.  Oh, and don't forget Christmas! 

I have so many trips I want to take and not yet enough time off work or money to be able to do them all.  Thailand to visit family, England to see Rachelle, Hawaii to see Jake.  The Maldives.  A million other places I'd like to go!

Honestly, I'm exhausted.  I enjoy all of those things, though, so how do I start saying no to fun?  Life is about the adventures.  I work so that I can afford to do all of these fun things. 

And why did I just feel compelled to list out my entire itinerary for the rest of this year?  Am I asking you to validate my life or asking you to commit me to a mental institution?  Oh, well perhaps this is just addict behavior.  I don't have FOMO (fear of missing out), I have FOYMO (fear of YOU missing out...on my awesome life).  I have always wondered why I feel compelled to take so many photos and videos everywhere I go.  I've always told myself it was because I wanted to make sure people were included in my fun.  Maybe the truth is I just want to prove to everyone that I have a cool life.  Or maybe I'm trying to convince myself -- that I do have a great life and I deserve all of the joy that I have right now.  I honestly don't know.  I'm just typing out loud here and throwing around ideas. 

I guess I could end this by saying I'm going to try to do less, which is something I've "tried" to do for years.  I feel like I actually DO a lot less than I used to.  I make time for the people who matter to me, and the people who matter to me make time for me.  I am eating healthy and taking care of my body (well, except that whole sleep thing).  I am happy with my life, and although I may still be leaning on the crutch of being busy, I know I'm not perfect, so this is going to be another work in progress. 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

41: The Year of Joy

I turned 41 a couple of weeks ago.  Much like turning 40 last year (you can read that story HERE), nothing happened.  Obviously, if you've read some recent posts, I may have had a little melt down, but that was unrelated to my age.  And now that some time has passed, I feel like I have clarity and resolve that I'm on the right path. 

I decided to apply a theme to my 41st year.  So, this year is the Year of Joy.  I believe I am starting it off with a bang.  NCPP kicked off the season for me only a few days before my birthday.  Our fourth year was another success.  My family had a get-together for me the next day, which was awesome -- all of the babies came to see Aunty.  My birthday week was actually pretty quiet but fun.  The day before my birthday, I went to dinner with friends.  On my actual birthday, I chose to go to class with Janet (Operation Upside Down in full effect!).  Friday night, I went to dinner with friends again.  Then I was blessed with a long weekend.  I got to go to the beach with the family.  I went horseback riding with my sisters and enjoyed a drag show.  Then I walked the Golden Gate Bridge with Jade. 

Oh, the excitement doesn't end there.  One week after my birthday, I got on a plane and flew to Las Vegas to visit my friends at Pole Expo.  While there, I got to relax by the pool and wander the Strip.  I also went to see Magic Mike Live (go see that show, seriously!) and Thunder From Down Under with my amigos. 

I have a ton of awesome things coming up to end the year on a high note.  In a couple of weeks, I go to San Luis Obispo for a yoga retreat with one of the members of my favorite band, Pepper.  A couple of weeks after that, we are taking all of the babies to Disneyland!  And in December, the family is heading back to Vegas for a few days -- to celebrate Seneti's third birthday. 

I am extremely grateful for the life that I have and the people with whom I have crossed paths.  I really am surrounded by an amazing group of people. 

I have started using #365daysofjoy on Instagram and Twitter to share a photo of something that makes me happy every day.  I am also keeping an album on Facebook.  I hope to inspire others to join me.  Even if you don't want to share every single day, I'd love to see what makes you happy.

Here's to 41 being a joyful year filled with family, friends and adventures!  Thank you all for being part of that journey!

Some photos of the things that have brought me joy over the last few months:

This face brings me joy

Introducing Colter!

Don't ask...


I adore how much these cousins love each other

The three amigos!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Operation Upside Down: Month 2

I just completed Month 2 of Operation Upside Down.  And by using the word "completed," I just mean that the month did, in fact, happen.  My last update was from Week 4, and you can read that HERE

August is the month of Northern California Pole Presentational.  We had our fourth annual event on Saturday, August 26.  It is an entire day of pole dancing.  We set up Friday.  Practice starts at 7 AM on Saturday, and the show runs from about 9 AM to 5 PM.  Then we tear it all down.  The entire month of August each year is generally spent collecting and organizing music for 70+ dancers, making spreadsheets, signs and lists, writing the script, gathering information from sponsors and vendors, designing a program, etc.  Basically, I get off work and I go home to park it on the couch and work some more.  I also started doing hospice volunteer work recently, and that has added to my already full plate (although it is rewarding work).  I did make it to a few classes sprinkled throughout the month, however, I was certainly not in gain-strength mode.  Last night was the final day of August --  my 41st birthday -- and my final chance to squeeze in a class before month 2 ended. 

Do I feel stronger?  Yes and no.  I kept up my yoga practice, and I also tried lyra during the month of August (I did a lot better than I expected).  I am sure I have mentioned before that I gauge my general strength based on how I feel during "chaturanga."  My chaturanga is decent right now.  I don't crash chest first into the floor as I start to lower.  However, when I tried chopper last night, I felt awkward and weak again.  Perhaps it was because I hadn't choppered all month.  I feel like Janet really has to push me into the move.  Ellen had mentioned last week that I may want to try kind of pushing off of Janet's arm so I'm having to push my own ass into the move.  I worry I'd break Janet.  She's mighty but she's so tiny. 

So anyway, here are some videos from August.  Slow and steady wins the race, right??

Starting Month 2:

Practicing on vacation even:

First lyra class (don't wanna go backwards):

Upside down with Jen:

Routine with the Dizzy Divas:

Second lyra class (falling backwards like a champ now):

And last night's chopper with Janet:

Thank you to everyone who is being patient while I slowly navigate the upside down world!  I know I play around a lot but I really am enjoying the process. 

Thank you for the birthday love, Twirlies!!!