There is beauty in the breakdown.

“so let go/ and jump in/ oh well whatcha waiting for/ it’s all right/ ’cause there’s beauty in the breakdown” – Frou Frou

Somewhere, there is beauty in leaning on someone else. In sharing, I mean really sharing, boundless, unexplainable sadness. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it’s important. Anxiety and depression are sad, lonley pits of human experience that make us think that we are alone; that make us think that we are the only people to have ever struggled; to make us think that this state of emotional upheavel is permanent.

The only thing that I can say with certainty about the uncertainty of anxiety and depression is that it is not permanent. Like a menance, it comes, and it goes, and sometimes you can predict it, and other times it shows up uninvited, but it is never a forever thing.

When you make room for the breakdown– the slow, sputtering spiral of anxiety and depression– the lonliness and the sadness — you give yourself permission to be one with the pain. Because though it is impossibly difficult to admit, this sadness is a part of us, too, and trying to pretend that it is not there is unproductive and does not serve a purpose to the task at hand. where is the beauty in this breakdown?

If we do not share our stories, then how can we ever grow or help anyone else on their journey?

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I can write this today because i’ve been there. I can feel this today because i’ve felt that. My hope is that the next time I feel defeated and less than, I can come here and read my own words of hope and realize that it will not be permanent. We must see the beauty in the breakdown. What is this trying to teach us? Maybe the lesson isn’t as profound as we want it to be. Maybe we have less going on than we think… maybe this is anxiety, arriving early for its shift, taking over our psychi and trying to protect us from something we do not need protecting from. We need to talk to our anxiety and to tell it…, ‘thank you so much for coming out today– but we aren’t under fire.’

No. Today, I am not under fire.

This breakdown is no different than other breakdowns i’ve had before. This breakdown is a bump in a long road of growth; this breakdown is a chance for me to reevalute the ways that I cope.

There is still beauty here, I promise.

 

 

Holding Space

Yoga teachers often say that they are ‘holding the space,’ which renders such powerful images of support and safety.

Holding the space gives a sort of permission to just stop and be — be held, be free, be cared for.

I’ve been thinking about this idea and the different ways that I can hold the space for myself and for others in my life.

Who holds space for you? Who lets you just…be…?

Everyday there is an opportunity to stop, reflect, change course, or move forward.

Take naps.
Stay up late.
Watch trashy television.
Fall in love with an old hobby.
Fall in to something new.

But leave room and time and space for self-care and safety.

When my anxiety makes me feel like I am drowning in an ocean of fear, there is a small part of me, hidden beneath the waves, waiting to catch me before I drift away. This is my safety net.

After a long day of work, I come home and my husband waits for me, arms outstretched and heart open . . . letting me melt into the safe space we have created together.

My safe space is my husband, love, hugs, Tetley, blankets, books, and coffee.
My safe space is mine, and only mine, and I implore you to find yours, too.
and when you find it… book mark it in your mind and remember it forever.

Hold.the.space.

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The time to reflect is now.

Give yourself time to reflect.

To come to terms with what you’ve done, and what you hope to do. When we constantly move from one place to another; one project to another; one thing to something else; in all of the shuffle, do we give ourselves adequate time to reflect?
After completing a hard task and pushing yourself passed an imaginary boundary, you must stop. think. regroup. and do better. It is not enough to simply relish in the immediate gratification of a job well-done.

If we do not allow ourselves this time, then we’ve missed something valuable about the experience we just had.

A reflected project is an accomplishment set on fire.

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What motivates you?

What motivates you? What moves you forward? What wakes you up from life’s sleepy monotony?

If it’s money, that’s okay. We can be motivated by money if that is why we wake up and go to work everyday, as long as we own it.

Reflecting on my teaching experience, it is not money that motivates me. After the students left from the second night of my new semester, I sat in a state of defeat: blouse ruined from sweat, eyes watering, bottom lip quivering. I knew that I had to identify what motivated me to parade myself in front of 60 students for 3 hours a week, and I had to find it fast.

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I walked into the class the following week, shoulders back with fake confidence, and I said it: “I do not teach because I need the money.” Silence ensued.  

Somewhere back at home, my husband, cringing when I replayed this story for him, both of us laughing at the magnitude of our student debt and that fact that I just said this. But it was true.

I’m motivated by my students and subject matter. I’m motivated by the act of sharing and imparting knowledge. I’m motivated by comma splices and semi-colons, memos and letter templates.

I began to change assignments from generic email templates about office jargon to requesting that the students write me emails about travelling to their native country, tapping into what inspires them to come to class.

SPARKS.

PASSION. 

I started to learn names with my English accent; I started to address students as they walked into my classroom on Thursday nights, holding firm eye contact. I laughed with them. I met them where they were and saw the knowledge that they were already bringing to the table- and I accounted for this in my lecture.

Did it change me or did I  find me? I’m not really sure– but I adapted. I shifted. I motivated myself.

The growing pains that I felt were necessary. Was this class perfect? No. But have I grown from the experience … ?

Like a giant.

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Tonight’s class was cancelled because of…anxiety.

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The sign on the door didn’t say it all. Today, when I arrived back at work, I removed my class sign from the door. I didn’t feel upset, though, when I removed it from the quiet classroom. I didn’t feel ashamed, either.

I felt like I made the right decision.

The classroom looked untouched; unlearned in; so still.

What I will take away from this experience is that I shouldn’t have cancelled my class 1 hour before it was scheduled to begin, but I should have cancelled it the night before when I had trouble sleeping. I should have cancelled it when I had to let the little white pill dissolve under my tongue to get to sleep. I should have cancelled it when I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I should have cancelled it when I sweat through my blouse at 9am… but I waited until 5pm instead.

I changed this note to what it really should have said because I am not ashamed. Because I need to see this note for what it really was so I know what I should have done hours before.

I know what is best for me, always, and I must never forget it. When my eyes swelled with tears, it was because I knew this storm was right behind that cloud.

6But alas, I am okay! I am safe and I’m okay. And I will face next week’s class with a renewed sense of purpose because I let myself breathe…and regroup…and relax…and reset. Because this storm was a lot milder than last time, and when I woke up from my 12 hour nap to face an early morning presentation, I looked outside, and I saw the sun.

It’s easy to be bad, but it’s hard to be good.

YES!

Isn’t that profound? I just ran into someone in the hallway and in the 15 minute shuffle between me going there and him going somewhere else, we stumbled upon this profound idea that yes…it is easy to be bad, but being good takes hard work.

Self-improvement is hard work!
Needing help is hard…
and asking for help is even harder.

Being miserable and unhappy is easier than addressing a problem head-on.

Like that famous quote says, “our vibe attracts out tribe.”
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We control the vibe that we put out there. We control who comes to us based on what we put out. We control our approachability based on something as simple as our smile. We control other people’s reaction to us simply by the way we look at them and respond with our body language.

A good day isn’t a coincidence. A good day means you were putting out a good vibe… and like an open book, you radiate what you’re feeling and that attracts what you’re getting.

It’s hard to be good, but it’s always worth it.

Do we ever stop losing once we’ve lost?

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I just had a visitor in my office, recounting the last days and moments of her father’s life, in a sad, painful memory. As her eyes welled up with tears and she fanned her face in the hopes of stopping she said, “could you believe it has been 20 years, and I could still cry like that?”

Can we ever stop losing once we’ve lost?

Everyone deals with loss differently, and it doesn’t just have to be the loss of someone who is no longer here. It could be the loss of your normal, of the life you’ve grown accustomed to- of the roles the people in your life played or play.

I grapple with a certain ‘loss’ of my own, but not death.

I think of my dad’s illness from last year, and it is always on my mind, no matter what. Sometimes, I play sad memories like a tape, and I have to stop myself and say, ‘he is okay, now.’

Maybe all of our losses and misses are connected, in some way?
Maybe that is why she couldn’t talk about someone else’s father passing without reliving her own father’s death.

Loss enforces our humanity.

There is something so definitive, yet so incomplete about loss: it plays like a reel, giving moments of temporary relief followed by moments, and possibly days, of such intense waves of sadness.

To all of those losing and to all of those who have lost, the tears we cry are communal: they are borrowed and recycled and then cried again.
These tears are mine, yours, and theirs:

These tears are ours.

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