Relax, Remove the Rocks

did end up continuing with 40 Days. Last week was all about Restoration, and our focus was on relaxing with what is, accepting your current situation, and removing the rocks in your life that hold you back from being who you want.

Relaxing

Through our practice, we learn that struggling against something makes the experience more difficult. Whether it’s a pose that you keep coming out of or a toxic relationship with your mother, constantly struggling against it won’t allow you through it. It’s like a Chinese finger trap.

Chinese finger trap

Things I decided to relax with:

  • My body does not look the way it once was, or how I’d like it to be. If I continue with the same behaviors, it’s only downhill from here.
  • I’m not working toward achieving my goals in endurance athleticism, and if I continue this way my goals won’t be achieved.
  • I don’t have a home that’ll be ‘repinned,’ but we’ll always have a “fun house.”
  • My mom has opposing views on how to live, parent, grandparent and what is appropriate for young children. I can’t change her, I can only amend my expectations and my own behaviors.
  • There are only so many active hours during the day, and sleeping less will only negatively affect following days.
  • At the rate I have been going, I’ll never have a book published.

Removal

I’ve removed many rocks over the last year of practicing Baptiste Yoga. I restored long-time dormant relationships, connected with people on a deeper level, came to terms with being awful at working from home, committed myself to my family, accepted that some things, people and dreams are worth letting go of and that I’M ENOUGH. The latter, something that has been a driving factor my entire adult life: trying to prove my worth to others through outside achievements.

Getting out of the rat race and resisting the need for approval is a constant toil. I still have moments when, though I have enough on my plate, I feel the need to do more. I have times when I feel like I’m being lazy, even when I’m rushing from one thing to the next. I have times when I obsess over the steps I’ll take after the next thirteen, and others when my past preys on my mind: trying to figure out why I am who I am and if or why I’m at a disadvantage.

These are rocks I’ll keep chipping away at, but this time around I’m going after physical things that are holding me back. I’m heeding advice from the book I read at the beginning of 2015 and I’m ridding my home from top to bottom of excess, bit by bit and often.

Then I took it a step further

People always tell one another to drop the past. That it’ll make them a happier, more fulfilled person if they move on and focus on the future. It sounds like rainbows and butterflies, but I’m already so happy and fulfilled, and I decided years ago, after binge-reading memoirs, that I didn’t go through all that I did just to keep it to myself. I need to hold onto my memories, because what if, suddenly, I wake up and they’re gone? What if I lose them without telling my story?

don't let this happen

On the final day of restoration week, I decided to remove all those rocks. I wrote a timeline, starting from things I don’t actually remember thoroughly going into what I did: childhood cancer, my dad moving out of state without a goodbye during my treatment, dealing with absentee parents as my mom attended med school, getting sent to live with my grandparents and various friends in middle school, hard, heavy and frequent drug use before I hit high school, rehab, dating violence and near-death experiences that stemmed from that, visiting my abuser in jail, teen pregnancy, teen marriage, domestic violence, alcoholism, sobriety, divorce, finding home as a single mother, finding true love, graduating college, beginning the workforce, my second marriage.

It’s just a framework, with few details, but it’s there. So it’s begun. I feel like I removed a boulder.

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Should I give up on 40 Days?

As I mentioned in my post about dropping the drama, I’ve been participating in my third 40 Days to Personal Revolution program at my local yoga studio.

Sometimes I feel like 40 days is hard to explain to others, especially because I’m participating in the same challenge repeatedly and expecting new results. In all honesty, the reasoning is simple: it works. What more of an explanation do I need? It makes me feel great from the inside out, my relationships flourish, and I’m able to expose truths that help me hone in and go further in the direction of my goals.

I wasn’t feeling that vibe last night. After admonishing my son for being disobedient again, and realizing the Hasselback Potatoes my husband suggested required a cook time that would threaten the final (and necessary to move on in the program) yoga class of the week, my anxiety level was apparent.

Always quick to notice my agitation (and with the patience of a saint), my husband asked, “If this is putting you on edge like this, then isn’t that against the point? Doesn’t that go against the reason you’re doing it?” and “You’ve already done it before, it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t do it again” even, “Your friend just quit, its okay if you do, too.” He was right.

The three of us cooked dinner as a family—one of my favorite things to do in the world—and I realized how silly it was that I wanted to rush through the process. I said aloud to my family as we sat and ate: “These are the moments I truly cherish. I’m living the dream.”

Still, after eating, packing up the leftovers, sending the boy to bed and a swift kiss to the hubs, I was out the door and on my way with plenty of time to spare in case the incessant parking dilemma at my overpopulated studio waged on.

I spent my drive calculating the amount of time it was taking for me to travel to and fro, to a studio that I love while passing plenty of other yoga facilities that I haven’t even tried. I thought about how, though I love the community of yogis at this place, I’ve given myself a 22 minute—without traffic, one way—commute to a hobby, plus allowing for 30 minutes to park to account for a worst-case scenario. It’s taking me 2 ½ hours to accomplish one hour of physical activity. Is this what I’m a yes for?

Parking ended up not being a fiasco, probably because it was the last class of the week and few were as under the wire as I was. Early, waiting on my mat in the quiet, thoughts spun around in my mind about this commitment: “Why am I doing this?” “I’m not proving anything new to myself.” That negative self-talk propelled into a spiral of thoughts like, “I don’t belong here” and “I don’t even fit in at this place, who am I kidding?” (Which, I later realized, is always my default way of talking down to myself.)

When someone I met through the program arrived, I sprung up and began talking to her about the thoughts I was having. She listened with possibility and offered no pep talk, but did discuss with me the similar thoughts and obstacles she had been running into. The class commenced, and the instructor informed us that in lieu of her usual Rock Your Flow, quick paced class with upbeat music, we’d be listening to R&B in celebration of an employee’s birthday.

Hell yes; I grew up on R&B.

Songs with a history for me came on, track after track, with yogis laughing as we realized which it was. I assigned unnecessary meaning to songs like “Let it Burn,” and resisted shaking my hips as I sank deeper into crescent lunge during another. Tracy Chapman’s hit single from ’95, Give Me One Reason, came on as we arrived in bridge pose, the instructor turned the lights down, and what seemed like the whole room began singing the lyrics. We remained in the pose, and in our song, until it was over.

Then it rushed back: these are my [cuss]in’ people and I’m right where I need to be. 

I don’t know all (or most) of the people in the room, many I probably haven’t even seen before. The fact that we all like to bend our bodies in different, sometimes painfully challenging ways could be the only thing any of us have in common, but I know it isn’t.

Many of us may come from different backgrounds and lead dissimilar lives, but we all have doubts. We like to be silly. We’ve experienced fear, sadness, anger, pain, joy, glory, pride and laughter. We’re all humans looking for connection and growth, and we’ve found a space full of others who are willing to be vulnerable, authentic and honest alongside us our journey. Or, you know, they could just like yoga. Who knows. But all in all, in every savasana, it feels like I’m home.

Because it works.

 Featured photo courtesy of Big Yoga

Drop the Drama

I have a lot of feelings.

Ever find yourself watching Teen Mom on purpose? Lifetime movies? Crying over songs Justin Timberlake wrote for Jessica Biel? Super Bowl commercials?

It can get a little embarrassing, but I do. When people open up about great loss, when they open up over great triumph, when they make something beautiful, when they display any degree of passion in any direction–I cry. I can face it: I cry a lot.

Past

As a kid, my mom and other relatives would call me a “drama queen,” and it caused me great hurt. My feelings felt so real to me; how could people who love me devalue them like that?

When I grew into an adolescent, I rebelled against my feelings. I hated that I was emotional, so I took on a persona of  “hippie” and “chill”. Drama free, care free. I wanted to be Cool Girl, and I steered clear of all people who were always fighting about who knows what, in favor of others who shared the same carefree careless attitude toward life. I wanted to be strong.

As an adult, I embrace my feelings, and take pride in the empathy I have for others. I learned that strength comes from knowing yourself, expressing yourself fearlessly, and inspiring others to do the same. I steered away from the drama-filled people and the careless, and confide in people who are emotionally aware. Now, I’m really drama free, right?

Present

Not quite. A little perspective I gathered from my 40 days meeting today:

Just because you steer clear of unnecessary conflict and people who are always wrapped up in it, doesn’t make you bulletproof from drama.

How often do you think, “Well, I really want to _______, BUT _____,” where BUT is some aspect of life that you allow to limit your growth?

  • “I really want to lose weight, BUT I can’t make the time to work out.
  • “I really want to eat healthy, BUT I hardly know how to cook.
  • “I really want to blog everyday, BUT I worry that there’s nothing valuable in what I have to say, and no one will care.
  • “I really want to simplify my life, BUT first I have to tend to my to-do list.

These are limiting beliefs I’ve let control my actions–my life even. I bring drama to things like going for a run because I haven’t done the laundry yet. I bring drama into cooking because I might fail again, I bring drama into blogging because “Oh no, I posted a link to my blog on Facebook and now people who I know could read about how I really feel and things I do that no one probably cares about and I’ll be vulnerable and they’ll judge me and my writing isn’t good enough and and and!” 

I bring drama into finding misplaced objects: “Where is that f*cking thing?” and as I continue to look, “Damn it! I can’t live in this mess!” and I bring drama into laundry: “I’m going to fold some laundry, but first I need to find a movie on Netflix to watch while doing that.” Then later, “Ugh! Why does Netflix keep messing up, I’m trying to focus on getting this stuff done!” 

Future

Now that I’ve noticed these thought patterns, I can bring ease into my daily life. I can stop thinking about what could limit me, and just BEGIN. I can think to myself, “Where is that useful object?” and replace the word “f*cking” with “delightful” in any situation. I can glide over the hurdles effortlessly if I’m focused on the finish line. All I need to do is see and drop the drama.

Is there something simple in life that you add drama to? Let me know in the comments!

 Featured image found on https://myfitwitjourney.wordpress.com/

My 25th Year: a post-birthday post

This time last year, I was working in the digital department of a large local retailer, putting in sixty hour weeks working beneath an unqualified manager–and bully–who had “known the right person” to get his position. I was overworked, overwhelmed, filled with guilt about my inability to have time for my family, and unsure as to where my “family” stood: my son was now beginning to call my boyfriend his dad…leaving much to be desired. As a recent graduate, I was engulfed with worry that this was what I had worked hard for and it my new normal. I was devastated, to say the least. Those emotions are what consumed me during the days I celebrated the first #quartercenturyofkelsie.

I’m quick to assess a situation’s costs and benefits and make adjustments, regardless of how difficult they seem at first. My thirst for growth is never satiated, and the previous year was filled with big choices, mature revelations, humble understanding, and peaceful acceptance. Here’s some of what I learned in my twenty-fifth year:

1. I am enough.

I spent the first few years of my twenties trying to prove something. I had a child at nineteen. I was devastated by the stigma and felt I needed to be redeemed. My final year of college was guided by fear of achieving a job, and when my job was depleting my quality of life, I didn’t know how I could save myself while still upholding this Wonder Woman Mom image I had been fighting for.

In January of this year, I participated in a 40 day transformation the Houston yoga studio that I belong to. The program is a combination of daily yoga and meditation, mindful eating (and living), and hard-hitting concepts that everyone struggles with. Through this program and my inward contemplation, I began to understand how OKAY I already am, how my journey is just as it should be, the illusion of right vs. wrong, and applied these concepts to my perception of others. I highly recommend the program, which can be guided through Baron Baptist’s book, 40 Days to Personal Revolution.

2. Letting go is worth it.

This year I said goodbye to some people who had been friends to me for a very long time, and I also reconnected with someone whose friendship I had let go of years ago. Someone’s presence is either serving your journey or they are holding you back from it. Don’t let feeling like you owe someone keep you from the growth you need.

On a bigger scale, you have to be willing to let go in the same way of dreams that you had for you future, so that you can make room for new ones. When Mark proposed this past November, I was stoked to have the dream wedding I couldn’t have when I married my son’s father as a teenager and then have a marriage filled with love and respect as I had hoped. Then I reviewed the budget and had to prioritize.

We’re still getting married, but it won’t be a big affair. Yes, I had those dreams a child, but I dreamed of going to Harvard before I was a slacker and the various other ways I let my life go astray from that. The dreams I’m achieving because I didn’t get stuck in not achieving others is why my life is so fulfilled.

3. Working a 9-5 is SO last century.

My favorite thing about working from home for a Houston-based marketing firm and our partners, is that all of the people I’m meeting with have one thing in common: they value life as a whole.

There’s this big issue with work/home balance in our society, but the people in my circle are living the lives that they desire—travelling the world, having the time to enjoy their family, staying faithful in their religion, and being active in their hobbies, all while running a business. We work random hours, but we’re able to enjoy it, rather than spending half of the day mindlessly surfing the web and watching the clock.

4. I’m not that great of a parent.

.,..But I’m not that bad of one, either. When I was growing up, I was always upset my mom was at school or work instead of being around and spite toward my absentee father grew stronger and stronger. I had opinions about the parenting that was given to me, and was sure that when I became a mother, I would do everything better. When Tobias was in utero and infancy, I read all the books I could get my hands on, then I was cocky about the choices I made—sure that they were the “right” ones.

I yell, I say inappropriate things, I talk too much and lose my patience quickly. But I’m doing the best I can, and that’s okay. The boy is all right.

As am I. Twenty-six sure sounds old, but it came with a sense of peace and an invigorating sense of priorities. I’ll take that over a face without fine lines and wrinkles any day.

Yesterday, Tobias turned 6.

Image

 

He woke up to laughter and balloons above his bed, dressed quickly, then worried as I cautioned him that we may be late for school, only for me to make a sudden left before our usual turn for the doughnut shop. With chocolate milk in hand, he closed his eyes, made a wish, and blew out his candles on a strawberry iced doughnut with sprinkles. This, all before the school day began. When I picked him up early, his classmates sang him the birthday song, along with “Cha! Cha! Cha!s” and smeared cupcake icing on their faces-much to his teacher’s dismay. We headed straight for the movies as he opened his present from me: a book and a game, both revolved around his self-professed future occupation, architecture. 

Despite traffic, we made it to the movie on time, threw on our 3D glasses and watched Rio 2. We were the only ones in the theater, and we took advantage of this by laughing obnoxiously, doing our version of Latin dancing to the songs, and me telling him in a non-hushed voice about how when he’s older, we’ll go to Rio de Janeiro and have all the fun. We made our way to Sky Zone when the movie ended, then to a pizza buffet for dinner. We ended our night later than usual, but still made time for a quick Skype conversation with Mark, his new book being read aloud, and for him to tell me about the buildings he’ll design “one day.”

Tobias’ birthday reminded me of how things have changed in his years here on earth. He came into this world the child of a marijuana-dealing-by-day, line-cook-by-night father, and a lost, teenage and broken mother. I remember that first night that I held him in my arms–my tired family had all run to IHOP for a celebratory meal–I assume his dad was with them, or somewhere off lighting a joint near hospital grounds. He left to do just that while I was in labor-the same thing he did in the middle of our wedding reception. It was all very typical.

I held Tobias in front of me, looking at his pale face with his top eyelids kissing their bottoms. An overwhelming sense of loneliness washed over me in that moment, and I realized that this is just as things were going to be going forward. Me and him, and I’d figure it out. Just the two of us. 

Fast forward six years. SIX WHOLE YEARS, a lot of moving into different places to live, one home, a handful of different jobs, two universities, one graduation, one career, a divorce, and an engagement. After all of that, I now feel like he has the stable, focused childhood that I always wanted for myself, and when it was too late, for my children. He’s in the advanced learning group at school, is confident in his abilities, participates in after school activities, and makes friends easily. He has a dad climbing the corporate ladder, a mom who is able to work from home, and an alternate life when he visits his father on weekends in the country with his maybe-soon-to-be-maybe-not stepmother, their tumultuous relationship, and a little brother. He never has to go without material possessions other than for learning’s sake, and, more importantly, he’s always surrounded with tons of love.

Despite that, I can’t help but feel like I haven’t figured things out like I thought I would that night. On the outside, I have an active lifestyle, a career, a home and friends and a happy family. But I’m still so lost. And I’m still, in all honesty, very lonely. I know it comes along with being a young mom and always feeling different from your peers–or rather, unsure of who your peers are anymore. It also comes with working from home: it’s just as much work to get out and be in the company of others when you’re not crammed into an office with people every day. This struggle with balance doesn’t seem to ever let up, and I’m learning it probably isn’t just me who feels this way. 

In this six years, I’ve realized that the whole “figure-it-out” thing is something that I was too young at the time to put into real perspective–similar to how I thought that my ex husband’s marijuana selling was a sign of entrepreneurship, and I somehow had decided he would have translatable skills in the long run. (Very naive. Very hopeful. Very 19.) I’ve found that “figuring it out”, when it comes to parenting, is a constant, deliberate set of actions-not a box you can check at the end of some period of time. And it’s okay, because mothers all over the world are struggling with up-and-down feelings of doubt, and they’re doing just fine too. The kids are alright–and so are their mothers. We’re kicking ourselves along the way, because we always feel like we could have been better. Next time, just ask the kids. They’ll tell you the truth: You’re the best mom in their whole world.

Happy Mother’s Day, y’all.