Self-care vs laziness

For some reason, my titles are starting to tie in more with the content of the posts… Eh.

I think, over the course of this blog, I’m going to post about this again and again. And if you get sick of reading about it; I’m not sorry. This is important. And if it keeps coming up for me like it does, then it clearly needs to be talked about.

“Get up, finish that essay, ride Sam, work Immy, go to work. *nod decidedly*”

The reality was get up an hour and a half later than the alarm (that was still before 6.30, but not the 4.45 I’d been aiming for), feed horses, open essay, scroll through Facebook, yawn, feel depleted from placement yesterday, shut down computer, watch hoarders and eat toast.

And the guilt only flickered across me for a moment. I’m super proud of that. Every week, I’m making decisions based on what’s best for my mind, body and spirit. Sure, a horse ride would do me good, but there’s no reason I can’t ride tonight after work. And sure, having that essay submitted would be cool this morning, but it can also be submitted on Saturday. What I can’t put off is rest, recuperation and self-care. If I need rest now I need it now. Most things are flexible. Most things can be rescheduled. What I’m starting to realise, is that it shouldn’t be rest and self-care that keeps getting put off. …

I’ll find/make time to ride, I’ll push to get the essay finished, but I won’t push to get a nap in or take some relaxation time. That’s not “a priority”. WHY!? Why isn’t it a priority!? How do I expect to be able to carry on without proper rest!? I can’t help people if I’m not helping myself. You can’t pour from an empty cup is becoming my daily mantra. A constant reminder to listen to my body and care for it.

So now I sit in trackies on the couch, under a blanket, watching hoarders and eating Nutella toast and it’s not even 8am. Here’s to a morning of recouperation after a heavy day counselling yesterday.

4X4 track epiphanies

So we’ve realised our parents aren’t perfect.

We’ve stepped back from them, their expectations and their timetable and rituals…

But how do we stop the habits that we’ve formed watching them?

How, when something breaks, do we not panic about how much it might cost to fix instead of laughing at the genuinely funny situation?
How do you realise your potential to be you and make your own judgements on situations?
How do you laugh more than you fret?
How do you remind yourself that having anxiety will always exacerbate this pattern of reacting rather than responding?

Sleeping helps; not having a migraine helps and having a super supportive and communicative partner definitely helps, and let’s be real- a couple of Midori Splice’s help too.

There’s a lot of clutter in my mind (and in my life, as I continue to cram a house-worth of existence into a bedroom with 2 cats and another giant human…), and I’m endlessly sorting through it and trying to organise it… Part of the reason I started this blog, to be honest…

One of my favourite things to tell people when they have major realisations about issues in their lives is that conscious awareness is key; a first step in changing behaviours, understanding our actions, ourselves and our relationships. My therapist told me this and I never believed her. I thought I was trapped and helpless in my situation and that my “conscious awareness” was like the consolation prize in my therapeutic journey… The “thanks for coming, we want to tell you you did good… but you’re actually really shit… Here’s a crappy ribbon” prize so that we don’t look like arseholes…

But it’s SO TRUE! Conscious awareness is like the first step! The actual KEY to moving forward and changing habits and creating new patterns!
Without being aware of these reactions and learned responses, how are you EVER going to change them!? How are you ever going to move forward in your own journey? You can’t possibly!

I welcomed the realisation that I had reacted by rote today. It means that I’m actually able to react differently next time in the same situation. It means that I don’t have to accept the habits I’ve learned from either of my parents as my own and it means that I’m on my way to really creating my own person.

My parents are amazing. Each of them, for their own strengths and their own beautiful idiosyncrasies and their own craziness. But I don’t want to be a replica of them. I don’t want to take on board all the things that, in my opinion, have held them back from their happiness.
I want to be on my own journey. I want to be my own person. Proud to be my parent’s daughter, but carving my own path through the jungle that is life: NOT following theirs. I don’t want to fall down the same ravines that they did and I don’t want to take the same ditch they did and wind up taking on water when there was a possible dry track a few metres to the left. I want to trust my gut on ever decision that I make. And maybe that decision finds me down a path towards a lesson I’d rather not have had to learn, but just past that little scrubby patch might be the most glorious view across a magnificent valley! A view I might never have seen had I just kept blindly following the path already forged by my parents.

So. We become aware. We step back. And then we practice. Practice and practice and practice until we’re making our own choices and responding to situations from they heart rather than from a habit. The tricky part is applying the same awareness across multiple situations, not waiting for the exact same moment to arise… But that, again, comes with practice.

I’m working out who I want to be. I’m developing a clear picture of her in my head. I’m beginning to be able to visualise what she will look like, how she might respond if presented with the same situation again and how she might feel to exist within. Visualising her will bring her into fruition. Believing in her will make her powerful. And BEING will … … I don’t know what that will do… But I’m excited about it!

I think I’m dying

What’s enough sleep?

No, I don’t want hours and minutes and statistics according to studies, I mean, WHAT IS enough sleep? I don’t even remember what it feels like.

I say that a lot. That I don’t remember what it feels like… But I don’t. I really really don’t. What I do remember the feeling of is feet like lead, knees like seized gears and a head that feels like silly putty that’s been dropped in sand – what a mess.

I like to think I’m getting better at looking after myself and saying no, and stopping when I need to rest… But after 2 nightmares and an almost comically appropriate tarot reading this weekend; maybe I’m not as good at self care as I thought…

I think my main issue is that I don’t take into account bad sleeps, short sleeps or big days. I continue to set my alarm for 6.00 or 6.30 even when I have nothing specific to get up for (Or could easily fit everything in with a 7.30 wakeup)… Now, when I’ve made it through a night without being woken by cats scratching in the litter tray or my partner giggling like a kid next to me at Top Gear episodes or crinkling chocolate wrappers in my ear (or on the other side of the king bed… but whatever, at 2 am everything sounds like it’s right in my ear); a 6am wakeup is splendid. But without enough sleep… They can be physically painful, and no amount of caffeine or berocca can numb that pain. The only cure is sleep…
I love mornings, I love feeding the horses while the birds are waking up, I love sitting on the verandah with a cuppa, watching them finish breakfast while I get licked on the face by any or all of the dogs. I love the shift in energy as the nocturnal animals retire and the rest of the world arises.

But I think I have become almost addicted to that feeling so that if I miss it – by sleeping in for an hour – I tell myself that I’ve wasted the best part of the day…

So where do I find balance between resting enough and having my favourite and most energising and soul-replenishing time of the day?

I just got disturbed from writing this and came back to my computer surprised to see a blog entry even open… So I’m sorry if this is not making sense… My brain is starting to melt a little.

I’ve posted about self-care before.

I know I have. It’s such a struggle for me. How do I look after myself and still get all my stuff done? Why do I eagerly take up more hours at work when I’m already too tired? Because working more earns me more, and earning more takes some pressure off me week to week in affording the things I need to live… And affording the things I need to live means that I can treat myself to massages or new nail polish or new riding gear and that makes me happy and etc.

But where’s the balance?! 

Why do I feel that I need to sacrifice something in order to sleep? That something needs to give? That I need to be awake as much as possible so I don’t miss anything or not get enough done?

I don’t have the answer to that one… Certainly not today. Perhaps (hopefully) a 7pm curfew for me tonight will help a little…

A panic attack in prose

Last week I had a pretty severe panic attack… One that made me question whether I had a hold on my anxiety or whether it had a hold on me, even though I knew logically and rationally that I’ve been doing awesome with it…

I was at placement… during a staff development/student free day and after pulling on a facade of calm, I sat quietly at the back and wrote…
I intended to share it immediately after, but lacked the courage to be that vulnerable… Now, as I prepare to transcribe it from pen and paper to interwebs, I’m left wondering if it will even seem half as dramatic as it felt at the time…
The point of me sharing it is that while it might not feel like it at the time, panic attacks, anxiety, ocd, depression etc are nothing to be ashamed of. They happen. Sometimes you can calm yourself through symptoms, sometimes you can’t. But they do not define you and they absolutely do not make you a less valuable human.


“I’m writing to try to take my mind off a panic attack.

I feel so watched.

This one has been long
3 hours
I’m already exhausted as if I’ve done a 16 hour day… In 3 hours…

Everyone is a familiar stranger.
I know everyone but no-one’s name…

I’m trying to pay attention.
Met with conflicting emotions about a Christian Sermon.

What we think about God shapes everything that we do”

Well that’s not untrue, I guess…

So contrived… A mask… A costume… A gang colour…

I moved my chair to a secluded place but now I’m surrounded.
I can feel everyone’s buzz pushing on me…

I’m just exhausted.

3 hours. “Good work will naturally serve others” 

I’m starting to blank out now.

I spent my drive here not hearing the radio.

I split myself in two but it wasn’t even.
7/8ths silently screaming for help, for peace, for stillness.
1/8th tiredly saying to breathe, to pull over and recite numbers, to recentre heart and mind, to clear chakras.

How far is a 7:1 fight? It’s not.
How am I ever supposed to believe that that is going to end favourably for the calm, rational side? The panic is so powerful. So relentless, so unforgiving. SO convincing.

When you’re in the throes of a panic you start to question whether you’re ever calm, whether you were ever on top of your anxiety or if you were just kidding yourself.
It’s always there.
But it’s always surprising when it hits you again.
And I’m not going to pretend it’s a gentle knock on the door and a polite request to enter your life again…
It’s a tank. Armed. Unstoppable. Unreadable and destructive.
Devastatingly destructive sometimes…

That moment- because it IS a moment, in the scheme of things- it feels like it’s all over, and you’ll never get a grip again…
And it’s tempting to throw hands in the air and give in to the dragon that is my anxiety
But in the calm wreckage that’s left after a panic attack- I realise that I’m ok…
I’m doing good.
They’re fewer and further between. I’m better at acknowledging them
And believe it or not, I’m getting better at managing them…”


Elastic-waist pants and too much pizza

My inner critic has always been so quick to berate me for saying the wrong thing in the wrong company at the wrong time with the wrong tone of voice…
Something I’ve been working on a lot in the last 3 years is acknowledging the notification of “that was wrong/dumb/stupid/insensitive/inappropriate” and sending it off for further analysis by the rest of my brain, then to my heart for final approval and response…
Most of the time, my brain can filter out all the rubbish and conclude that what I said or did was fine, nothing to worry about and move on with my life, but sometimes I get stuck on one…

Sometimes I get stuck on something I said that caused an energy shift in the room… The sorts of things where you can’t say “I meant no offence by that comment, by the way”, because saying something like that means that you’ve assumed that they HAVE taken offence by it and that, therefore, you’ve popped them into some box that you’ve created that would see them being offended by the sort of thing you just said and it just gets way too messy and disastrous…
So you sit on it… And because you’re sure you felt a shift in the energy the first time you said it (yeah, that’s right, you said it more than once, goodness knows why), you’re sure you’ve done some damage to someone in the room at some level. And because you’re sure you’ve done some damage, your inner critic rips the reins from your hands and takes the wagon off road and careers through the desert castigating you until you feel so isolated from rational salvation that you begin to believe it. You begin to believe everything your inner critic is raving on about…
Maybe you HAVE ruined that person’s day. Maybe they DID think you were aiming your remarks at them with intent to hurt and manipulate them, maybe you ARE crazy for thinking these things in the first place. Maybe you’re a horrible person for even thinking that that remark would affect the person/people at all in the first place and the fact that you think it would is just as bad as having said it in the first place…

Man, I’m exhausted just WRITING that… Let alone THINKING it ad nauseum!!

Short of overcompensating with compliments and niceties, I never really know what to do with this one; but I’m having a red hot go at understanding and dealing with these situations…
I’m trying to look inward and see what I was projecting into the group, what insecurities I was covering up… Or rather laying naked for all to see…
Sometimes it’s easy; I’m feeling a little uneasy about my appearance today, or I’m not feeling intellectually dexterous today, or I’m trying to justify some self-care action that, in the past, has made me feel guilty…

Sometimes it’s not so easy… The inner-critic-declared ‘faux pas’ is hidden, cryptic, confusing… So what do we do with it then?
I have this cartoon image of my brain sometimes, where a situation like this comes into the office and the power-tripping team leader (inner critic) is going ballistic over something that the rest of the team aren’t really seeing as a big deal… They bounce it around to a few departments, receiving analysis and having meetings until finally they shrug and pop it in a basket labelled “misc”…

The misc basket is where a lot of my “not sure what to do with this one” things go at the moment… And while it might seem irresponsible to some; it’s really a great balance of self care and self reflection. Sometimes I’ll revisit a Misc Basket deposit with new information and resolve whatever issue was left in there; sometimes I’ll revisit and realise it’s really an unimportant issue and can probably be binned now that the team leader is on annual leave, and sometimes I just leave it there…

In this great journey that I’m on, trying to work out who I am, who I want to be and what I’m about; reflection is important… but balance is more important… And if my darned inner critic is going to try to take over the controls; then I’m going to take a good solid step back and out of myself so it has less to grab hold of while it’s on its rampage…

You’re gonna say dumb things. But if you keep dwelling on them and replaying the conversation over and over in your head, then no-one benefits, you achieve nothing and you just wear yourself out!




Fake tan, periods and chocolate slice

What a week.

I embarked on an ever-cliched “health kick” last week. Starting Monday. It’s now Monday again and a week of calorie counting highlighted a severe weakness for me. Sure, I know I snack… lots… but that my snacks each day are ALWAYS more calories than any single meal (Even huge roast dinners) means that something needs to change. I need to be nurturing my body, not abusing it. It has carried me so powerfully through so many good times and bad… It was time to reassess.

Then there was the change rooms…  Change rooms are rarely anyone’s friends really, with the lighting and the stifled space and the contrived atmosphere… But for some reason I struggled more with them last week than I have in years.
Getting undressed and having a panic attack? What was that about? I was loving my body, not hating it… What was happening? Why the sudden self-loathing? That made me panic even more; was I failing at loving myself? Had I been pretending too much and when faced with the “truth” (change rooms are never the truth. NEVER. EVER) about my body?
I worked my way through this one quite quickly, thanks to friends and mum and breathing… and sushi… and several coffees… and Typo retail therapy… and by the evening I was doing fine… Determined to remain focused on improving my health and getting more energy and more life. While in the shopping centre, I opnely admitted to mum that I’d fallen apart in the change room and proceeded to actively seek out something to lift my spirits. I love buying things. I love stationary. I went to Typo. Where it doesn’t matter what I look like; so I could remind myself of that very fact.
When I got home, I tanned myself, I always feel better tanned. Not for anyone else to view me as tanned, but for me to see myself as sunkissed and energetic. Tans to me are childhood (I was quite the olive skinned youth) and summers well spent getting things done and living my life the way it should be lived: Outside.
So a little bit of colour helped, and some wines and dinner with mum, my partner and his best mate helped…
I did the things that I needed… I exercised self-care. I’m getting better at it.

The next day I was tired, I wrote an essay for uni, I had a nap, I got a massage, I had another nap… Why so tired?!

Then I got my period. And suddenly everything from the last few days made sense!
Now, I’ve worked hard to embrace my monthly visitor, we’ve had a turbulent past. Cysts, endometriosis, agonising pain, endless cycles etc. But I read somewhere that we should learn to embrace them as we embrace our femininity and womanhood. We are strong and powerful and can carry on functioning as if our period pain were a tiny scratch from a kitten if need be. Our monthly cycle is an opportunity to start afresh, it’s out with the old and in with the new. Like a full moon, each month it starts again… What’s not to love about that?!

In recent years, my period arriving has often signaled the “ah ha” moment for a whole week of unexplained emotions, self-loathing and extra kilos on the scales (which shouldn’t bother me, because I KNOW that the number on the scale doesn’t define me, but it’s so ingrained by society, that sometimes, nonchalantness eludes me…).

The more this happened and the more regular my periods became (medications for endometriosis meant that I was period free for 5 years, so I had to get back into the swing of it), the more welcome my periods were. I started associating periods with chocolate. When I got my period, I got chocolate. That first chocolate of my period is never added to any calorie counting and is consumed 100% guilt free. It’s simple conditioning; but it works. So now my period says; “HELLO! I’M HERE!”, my brain says; “Oh thank heavens, I thought I was going mad” and my heart says; “YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS CHOCOLATE!!”
All this combines to make getting my period a pretty sweet deal.

So, after all that babble; What did I learn through this week? What can we take away from it?

I’m getting far better at loving myself. A brief moment of disillusion does not spell the beginning of a downward spiral for me into self-loathing and disgust. This is a huge leap forward.

I’m still learning about my body. 31 years on and I still fail to confidently recognise period symptoms before the event… And that’s perfectly ok!

My support network is vast, strong and understanding. I would have flailed significantly longer had I not had such powerful and immediate support.

Anxiety might not go away, you just get better at dealing with it.

And finally; Love is a whole bunch of tiny little acceptances and realisations. Not grand gestures and big events. Whether loving yourself or someone else. It’s the little pieces that add up.