Perfect posture for an aligned life

Alignment: To arrange in a straight line, or in the correct and appropriate relative positions.

I'm working hard to dedicate myself to core principles that help me align my mind, body, and soul.

We do yoga, pilates, core strength, Feldenkrais, Bosu Ball, wobble board and so many other techniques to get our body into alignment. Why?

From Chiro.org

"Improper body alignment limits function, and thus it is a concern of everyone regardless of occupation, activities, environment, body type, sex, or age."

Body alignment refers to how we stand, sit, and walk, but what if we apply this concept to our lives?

Just like an out of alignment body will limit your function, so too will an out of balanced life. 

Being out of alignment will

  • skew your outcome.
  • slow you down your growth.
  • result in mistakes and often injury.

We can properly align our spines by engaging different muscles in order to find the best posture for our bodies.

Does it come overnight? Is it the same for everyone? Do we use each muscle the same amount?

No. No. And no.

Learning how to properly stand or sit takes time and effort.

In order to sit correctly over a period of time you need to use a balance of lower back muscles combined with engagement of your lower abdominals. If you're used to slouching over at your desk this may feel difficult and uncomfortable at first but over a period of time it begins to feel right.  Aligned.

We have to find our "best life posture" in our daily lives in order to work towards a perfectly aligned life.

From Physopedia.com

"Posture is attained as a result of coordinated action of various muscles working to maintain stability."

I find my best "life posture" is attained when I engage each of my "life core muscles" during my day. Each one of us has a different set of life core muscles. They will change over time depending on life circumstances, health, and age. I've had difficulty learning when to adjust my core muscles. Trust me, it becomes more obvious in your 40's and as you get older. The good news though is that you get better at the practice with age.

Currently these are my seven life core muscles:

  • Focus
  • Exercise
  • Nutrition
  • Learning
  • Thinking
  • Creation
  • Rest

Keeping these seven life core muscles working together isn't easy for me because I've made a habit of busy days, procrastination, skipping step, taking shortcuts and working one life core muscle too hard over another. If I do this I get sick, depressed, manic, testy, pudgy, or too thin, and also don't sleep. The stakes for me are pretty high.

If I pay attention to each life core muscle I achieve a balanced day.

The more I learn to engage these life core muscles I am able develop a practice which results in personal and professional growth.

On my most focused days I try to work my life core muscles in a certain order.  That "almost" perfectly aligned day looks like this.

LIFE CORE MUSCLE 1: FOCUS 

6 am: 20 minute morning meditation followed by a reward of a mug of tea curled up in bed with the morning news while I wait for the kids to get up. Linking my meditation to a cozy reward has really worked for me.

LIFE CORE MUSCLE 2: EXERCISE

9 or 10 am: One hour of exercise, usually a group dance class so I can engage with others and feel part of a community.

LIFE CORE MUSCLE 3: NUTRITION 

11 am: I think about food for the day. I am learning that in my 40's my body feels best when I eat small meals, about 150-200 calories at a time. I try to nourish my body before it enters the out of control hunger phase. If I don't I quickly drop out of alignment which literally shows up immediately as my stomach bloats and then will remain for the rest of the day. Nutrition is one of the most difficult muscles for me to keep under control, so I am working on minuscule alignment adjustments to help myself stay engaged.

LIFE CORE MUSCLE 4: LEARNING

Mid morning: While I do my daily chores of walking the dog, kitchen clean up, cooking and tidying the house, I am usually listening to a book or a podcast. This is my daily "learning" and it helps my brain mull over what I will create that day or later on in the week, or maybe in the upcoming year. I enjoy learning, which I never really did as a child. The difference as an adult is that I focus on what interests me.

LIFE CORE MUSCLE 5: THINKING

Midday: This is a new muscle for me. I am working the practice of being an original thinker. I try to take ten minutes in the middle of the day while I sit and think with a pad and a paper and idea generate. You could call it an idea brainstorm or in my case a brain dump. I have so many ideas in my head. If I write them down while not putting much pressure on what the ideas or thoughts are but instead just flex that muscle I feel more whole.

LIFE CORE MUSCLE 6: CREATION

After lunch I take time to create. Currently my daily blog post plus one more creation that I'm "allowed" to work on. I've allowed myself only one other project at a tim(30 days at a time) in order to keep my mind in alignment. If I allow myself to do more it will immediately throw something else out of alignment. My second creation that day has to be kept small and succinct. If I want it to be a large project overall, it will have to become that over the month or the year, not in that day! That would be working too many muscles!

LIFE CORE MUSCLE 7: REST 

This doesn't mean literal rest although it could mean that. This is a difficult muscle for me. I tend to want to multitask and continue working other muscles while I'm supposed to be giving my mind and body a rest. If I have stayed mostly in alignment in the beginning of the day I have an easier time letting myself rest. Regardless, I have to pick up kids at 3 so trying to use any of my other life core muscles at that point is fairly useless. I need to focus on helping my kids work their core muscles. While they play, or practice guitar, or draw, eat, complain, or whatever it is kids do, I try to either do it with them or I read a book, lie down for a bit, relieve my mind of thinking about the other core muscles. If I don't give myself a break I start to obsess and get out of alignment.

Of course the days vary. I gave you my best day. Sometimes I have to go to the doctor, a hair appointment, or a dance class that's at 5 pm not 10 am. In that case I restructure my day to allow myself to address each life core muscle.

Do I fail? Yes! All the time. But as I practice more and more each day I start to feel those uncomfortable muscles becoming stronger. As a result I start to click.

Your life core muscles may be way different than mine. You may find that you can start with mine and then build upon that. Some of your muscles might be underdeveloped and some may be overdeveloped. Some may be just right.

Remember the goal! Find your own best life posture through engaging your life core muscles daily in order to work towards your perfect life alignment.

Now I have a question for ya. Are you sitting up straight?

30 days

Today I felt an old friend come back.

Overwhelm.

Perhaps it's psychosomatic due to a reduction in medication. Or perhaps that medicine is working its way out of my body and brain a whole lot faster than I imagined and leaving me with the realization that I am going to try and move forward on my own.

Why do humans have the knack for forecasting the future when we are usually incorrect? 

The reason I am able to write on this blog daily is because I have let go of any outcome and see it as a ritual. I won't become rich and famous from it and yet it has given me valuable lessons.

1. I can indeed sit down for an hour everyday and write.

I thought I would have difficulty coming up with things to write. Somedays it's more difficult than others. I have learned to trust the process and simply begin writing. Letting go of the idea that this is for anyone, and worse, everyone all at the same time, it releases a freedom from within and out it comes. 

2. One simple daily practice eventually turns into a collection

I make things so complicated. I overthink. We all do. However, now after committing to writing daily Monday through Friday as part of my practice I have over 40 essays that I can be proud of.

They may not change the world but they've done a whole lot for me. They've shown me patterns, proven to me that I have the ability to focus, and I've felt the joy of actually learning something new. How to write.

I'm not the worst writer. I'm not the best writer. I'm a better writer than I was last month and that is of value. It has certainly has given me a sense of accomplishment. That's what we all strive for isn't it?

3. I have gained more and more confidence each day.

At first writing was mega gut wrenching. I thought long and hard about what people would say, how they might judge me and then I had a realization. People don't really care. They may think about me while reading a post, but there's so much frickin' stuff going on in our world that out the window it flies once they see that next blog post.

I've got my friends, family and relationships that are in line with my values and that's good enough. 

But now as I take a step towards some sort of outside work in creeps that old friend overwhelm. 

I know my old way of working will not be sustainable if I want to stay healthy both mentally and physically. The old way sends me into a spiraling maniacal maze of wires crossing and pond jumping rather than climbing one ring at a time.

And so a new 30 days begin. I will apply the same technique as daily blogging with a new section of my work. I'm not going to write or talk about it in an effort to keep the energy within the work. 

I have made a pact with myself to not change the project mid month. This is the most difficult thing for me. But I know this is the key. This project will simply be what it is. If it needs to stand on its own after I'm done that's what it's going to do. If it wants to grow then I will grow with it. 

And guess what? Another 30 days is around the corner. 

I will use the same technique I have used with writing. Gut instinct. 

After 30 days I will see what value it holds for me. 

See you on the other side. And yes, I'll still be here writing.

Hygge Fika and Lagom: Simple words for a perfectly balanced lifestyle

I received the Little Book of Hygge, Danish Secrets to Happy Living

Although my brother gave it to me at Christmas, I just had the opportunity to sit down with this book a few weeks ago and as Marie Kondo would be so proud to hear me say, it sparked joy!

I finally had a word for my favorite feeling of coziness.

Hygge.

Pronounced "hoo-gah" and roughly translated means "coziness", but it's way more than that.

It's a way of living. The Danes strive for a hygge life as a way to combat the long cold and dark winters. 

If you gravitate to Pinterest and Instagram pictures of candles, knit blankets, and soft cashmere sweaters you crave a little hygge in your life.

I've always known this is what I gravitate towards but didn't have a name for it. Thank god for the Danes! Now that I know it's an actual word I feel as if I can actively seek out hygge moments in my life.

It's much more than having a cozy house, although that's essential. When I walk into a friends home that oozes warmth, easy to sit on furniture, loads of books, and the pefect Diana Krall soundtrack in the background I know we're going to be friends for life.

Warm dinners with friends over bottles of wine, candles and hip music is a guaranteed recipe for hygge. A girls weekend with coffee in the morning in your PJ's bingeing on Big Little Lies: hygge. 

An armchair, your favorite Ugg slippers, a breakfast nook: as the Danes would say, "that's so hygge".

Oprah coined the phrase, Live Your Best Life, and I'm on a quest to do just that.

Therefore I wondered what other words were out there that I could intentionally add to my daily routine. 

Just thinking about them makes my heart feel more content. Maybe they will do the same for you.

Fika: The Art of The Coffee Break

This one seems easy to add into my daily life, but in order to do it the right way it needs to be an actual break from what I'm doing. For me that means reading a gasp! ACTUAL BOOK. 

I mostly listen to books, about one a week, but as I've been off  FaceBook just in the past two days, I have found I have more time to do just this.

I gather that you're also supposed to have a baked good with it in order to really create fika, but let's face it, fika gonna get me fat. So, I'm just gonna make it a tea or kombucha break. Also, sadly, I do not like coffee. 

I know...so NOT fika.  

Lagom: The Swedish word for not too little, not too much

Ooh. Doesn't that sound...well...just perfect? This is what I strive for. A perfectly balanced day with a little bit of news, a bit of reading, and the perfect amount of writing. Mixed in there I'd like an hour of exercise where I work hard but not too the point of making myself sick. 

I love to have some "community" on my plate. Laughing with friends in my dance classes. Maybe a coffee date with two of my girlfriends, or just a phone call catching up with a close but long distant friend. But not too much. And only with someone I really like. 

Behind all of this is a balanced happy life called Lykke

Yep, the Danes have a name for that too! I mean I guess we say "happy life" but that doesn't seem quite as smart does it? 

Lykke is a way of life. Just like you practice yoga, you practice Lykke.

Being a girl that likes concrete ideas that lead to action this word is perfect for what I'm currently trying to do with my life.

Lykke is said to have six key factors that span the globe in terms of happiness level.

Togetherness, money, health, freedom, trust, and kindness.

That's really it isn't it? Going beyond this is getting too complicated. If these basic needs are met we know that the rest will come. Or maybe it won't. Perhaps there is no "rest". 

Or if there is a "rest of my life" I'm not sure I'll care because I'll be living my best lykke.

That my friends is deep. You might call it so hygge, lol.

There's only one thing I would add to those six.

I would like to add honesty. I have made that a core tenant of what I'm trying to strive for. I feel so much more whole when I'm not pretending to be someone I'm not.

I guess what I'm saying is it's easy to fake lykke and to make others think you're in it. That's what social media is about. It seems that anything in excess could push you over the edge and into unhappiness. 

Too much eating, drinking, talking, too many friends, too much worrying about what others think, or boasting about ourselves, can all push us into another land that's out of sync and before you know it, you've tricked yourself and find yourself out of lykke.

We've seen that happen with too much togetherness, too much money, too much boasting. We all know a ton of people with boatloads of money who are miserable. 

The recipe is not complicated.

A dash of hygge mixed with a moment of fika and balanced out with lagom creates lagom. Simple.

And at the end of all that you top off the day with the Italian's "La Passeggiata": The art of taking a walk in the evening.

Oh my gosh, I want to go on a trip now. But instead I'll curl up with a good book and a cup of tea. 

Happy hyggeing!

 
 
 

 

 

In a world of 1402 friends I basically just feel shitty: Have you heard of Dunbar's Number?

I have 1402 "friends". That's just on Facebook.

I also have a ton more through dance, theater, and writing. It seems like as the number goes up, my happiness level is diminished.

Would I have been diagnosed as Bipolar 2 at age 41 if I hadn't been on social media for the past ten years? I'm actually not sure. 

I've been thinking for the last three months about the fact that I seem to have become more and more uncomfortable with my life in a way I do not recognize. I used to love my life and now I am constantly on a search for something else. 

To be fair I don't think I can blame it all on social media or modern times. It runs in my family. If you read my dads journals before he died you would see the trend. Perhaps at age 40 or so this was inevitable for me. However, the trend is not just in me. Many of my friends and family complain of this even if they don't admit or realize it.

I know it's a simple concept but could the decline in my happiness be directly related to my brain being on overload from an overabundance of social relationships most of which are shallow or competitive? 

I've learned recently about Dunbar's number.

Without going into too much detail Robin Dunbar was a British anthropologist who proposes that the cognitive limit in which a person can relate to another person is about 150. 

Now that's some fancy talk but it really means we ain't supposed to have more than 150 relationships. 

Although he researched brain size, primates and the volume of neocortex in hunter gatherer societies, Dunbar explained it informally as "the number of people you would not feel embarrassed about joining uninvited for a drink if you happened to bump into them in a bar."

150 people. This makes total sense to me. Does it to you?

To go further than that, within that 150 people each person basically has the ability to be "the best" at something. If not the best then maybe the top 5%. Within our village of 150 someone gets to be the best cook, the best tennis player, the funniest guy, the sluttiest girl. You get the idea.

But in a world of 1402 friends you basically just feel shitty. All I can see is all the other people who are better writers than me. Better comedians. Better opportunities.

Although I can safely say my relationship with my husband and my kids is one to strive for, most of my time is worrying about all the people with nicer cars, cooler vacations, and weirdly white kitchen counter tops. Weird I know.

But I'm just admitting it. You may be more interested in granite. I get it.

This makes no LOGICAL sense because I know that I have a f*ckin kick ass life and a ton to be proud of. I mean I don't know it. I KNOW IT. I don't need more.

I'm feeling this way and I know so are a ton of other people.

My brain is being tricked into a feeling of inadequacy on a subconscious AND conscious level. Worse than that it flairs up every ten or so minutes when I check my phone like a mouse in a trap. 

Not one to sit around and let things happen to me I'm forcing myself into a change. I don't want to spend the rest of my days like this. I have so many projects inside my head. I want to have time to work on them and fulfill the destiny I believe I am made for.

I want to set a better example for my children. I don't know how to combat the stress that they will inevitably feel when they start comparing themselves to others on social media. I can only lead by example and right now I'm not a good example.

I was about age 30 when this all started. Now it's been ten years and I'm worse for it. What happens if it starts at age 13? Or age 11 considering my son has an Instagram account?

It seems so simple at it's core. But as suicides among teens rise, depression and anxiety intensifies, it becomes painfully obvious doesn't it? Too obvious not to do anything about it. 

Sorta like gun control huh?

I shed my closet down to 33 pieces (okay actually about 50-still working on it) and I feel better. 

I've limited my day to just 5 or so sets of goals for the day. Parenting, walking, writing, cleaning, reading, exercise. I feel better.

I basically eat 5 different types of meals in order to stay healthy. I feel better.

I look at my phone, maybe 50, 75, 125 times a day? I feel shitty.

I use excuses by saying I need it for business or to stay relevant. But the writings on the wall. It's a drug just like everything else. I can feel it.

I panic at the thought of writing here that I'm going to have my friend make a password for my social media accounts and not give it to me for 30 days. I'm an all or nothing type of gal. If I'm on this grand experiment to take my mental disorder, health, and happiness into my hands then I need to really dive in.

My blog posts, dance classes and important dates will be added by someone else. And I'm not going to write on FB "If you need me I'll be over here". That annoys me. If someone really needs to get a hold of me they'll find a way.

I'll see you on the other side. Let the withdrawal and the shakes begin.

Wanting other peoples things and Project 333

Whenever I go into someone's house I usually think, "god I'd love that table.

It's so rustic. It looks so cozy and inviting. I bet they have a ton of dinner parties with cool hip friends, drinking wine for hours and chit chatting about important stuff. I'd really want that table."

Don't you?

I think things like, "Wow, there house is so much smaller than mine but somehow it's just that much hipper, chic plus they've got this cool edgy vibe that I think I would be so much better off with."

If there is anything that makes me unhappy it is pining after other peoples things.

It's not so much the longing for someone else's life. I like my life. It's more about hating the feeling of wanting something I can't have. It makes me uncomfortable and I spend way to much time on it.

Still I truly believe that if I had that white pottery barn couch that basically it would feel like I'm living in a house on Nantucket. What?! I've never even BEEN to Nantucket, so f*ckit! 

Except no, I could really see myself in Nantucket. I have a very clear picture you guys. I'm wearing white skinny jeans and my blue and white striped shirt. Very nautical, very Kennedy family. You see it right? Yeah, me too. 

I really really want that white couch. This is not even close to a rational thought because my daughter would ruin that couch in under five seconds. She's gross. Cute, but gross.

Basically I'm upset because "Waahhh, I don't have that" and I'm upset because "Waaahhh, I hate myself for thinking this way." And lastly because "Waaahhh, I have so much and I'm obviously a selfish bitch."

I also think, "I'm 41 years old and continue to have this problem year after year, decade after decade and jesus this is exhausting."

I'm mean people in Puerto Rico are STILL living without electricity for f*cks sake. What am I COMPLAINING ABOUT?!?!?!?!?

Okay calm down. Me. I'm saying that to me, not you.

Or maybe you.

Because most everyone I know has this problem even if they don't care to admit it. I'm talking to you guy who's like "Yeah, I don't consider myself materialistic" but has four Ipads, Apple TV, and a new Macbook pro. Yeah, you.

I would like to say life would be so much easier if we had more money but, um we DO have more money than we ever had five years ago, seven years ago, ten and fifteen years ago. Lots more.

We are rich. Not like Tesla rich. But like we live in Silicon Valley rich. If you can afford to live in a comfortable house here you're rich. 

We just continue to set the bar higher and higher wanting more and more.

This drives me f*cking crazy. 

And to be honest, I don't know how to get over it. I really don't. Because in the end, it's not rational and I know that.

If you're some genius let me know, but in the meantime while I'm working on this human dilemma l will give a few nuggets of what I DO know.

  • I know that I don't REALLY want to make more money. If I did I would go out and get a regular job. Instead I place a higher value on my time, health, and emotional well being. Currently being at home with less work is something my body needs. I could always go out and get a job, make another company, charge for another service. I can talk my way into most anything. I obviously do not value that idea enough to do that.
  • My husband's values are similar and in the end I'm grateful. He has a "normal" job (meaning he's not an artist like me) but doesn't want to climb the corporate latter so fast that he misses out on his life or us. Being able to take a lunch time bike ride for him is much more inline with our values than making 25K more. Plus he gets to see us. We are only here once on this earth after all.
  • I believe that most of the time I'm coveting what I perceive as peoples relationship to money. They seem to know how to handle it. They're more grown up than me. They did something right. I didn't. 
  • I know that patience would be one of the keys to my success. Instead I make rash decisions that result in overbuying and overabundance of sh*t I don't really need. 

Even though I don't have a clear answer to this problem that a lot of us seem to be facing I believe in taking action. I'm setting out on a series of experiments to see what helps me have control over my thoughts rather than letting an unrealistic "perception of others" shape them for me.

Here's what I'm going to try first. Project 333.

Project 333 is the brain child of Courtney Carver. She was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis which caused her to re-evaluate her life's priorities. She has a big story and went through a huge transformation but the biggest takeaway for me right now is my closet. 

Here's the challenge she puts forward. 

For three months you can have 33 articles of clothing. That includes accessories, purses AND shoes. Total. WTF?!

You can change out your 33 articles each season.

The good news for me. Workout clothing doesn't count! Great for me since I workout about 5 days a week and I am a super sweaty person. Like grossly sweaty.

Although, if I'm really being honest I will need to pair that down to only 10 items as well. I've got a sh*t ton of Lululemon.

In addition, leisure wear (around the house lounge stuff), underwear, socks, and pajamas don't count toward the 33. BUT, even there if I'm REALLY being honest with myself I basically wear leisure wear ALL of the time so I'll be sorting those out as well.

I'm going to start here.

  1. One BIG pass at getting rid of 1/4 of my clothes and donating. I'll be pretty good at that I think. I've got a lot that I don't wear and I don't have a hard time parting with stuff. Mainly because I just buy more stuff.
  2. Do inventory of what I wear all the time. Hold it up, Marie Kondo the sh*t out of it. Does it give me joy??? I LOVE THIS BOOK, read it.
  3. Decide whether or not these articles of clothing will hold up washing for the next three months and if I need to replace I will use the gift cards I have.
  4. Box up all the rest and put in the garage.
  5. See if I notice what is gone.

Eek. I'm scared. Are you scared for me?! I figure what's the worse that can happen?

I don't know. I can't really think of anything that bad other than the emotional attachment I feel towards my clothes. 

I can feel an emotional charge well up inside of me when I think of not buying any clothes for the next three months. It kind of makes me want to throw up.

And you know what that makes me think? I'm on the right track.

Care to join me on 333? Let's do this!

 

What 5 adjectives do you use to describe your life?

As I complete my first week of The Simple 30, my month long exercise of living daily life as a modern lady monk, today I thinking about adjectives.

Sexy, right?

What is a modern lady monk? Read about it here.

I recently listened to an interview with Chip Conley, head of hospitality at Airbnb who has previously owned and run hotels for 20+ years. His method to success is to use adjectives to actively describe each hotel he works on. These adjectives focus his design, staff, and experience of the hotel.

He now helps hosts of Airbnb's develop their adjectives in order to successfully run their businesses.

I thought about this and realized something.

I do this on stage and in performance. I make sure each moment is thought out with clarity and specificity, using adjectives to ensure my character is never without a point of view.

I'm thinking, why not do this for my real life? And then maybe you can do it for your life. It's a win-win.

Let's start with the basics

What is an adjective? For those of us who suck at grammar I'll explain it.

A word or phrase added to a noun to describe it.

As in shy kid, pretty lady, lazy river. 

I'd love to be on a lazy river right now, wouldn't you?

The point of this exercise is to distill down what adjectives you'd like to define youthe objects you create and the relationships you enter into. 

How can you live your most specific life? I sound SO like Oprah right ladies?

No? Just me thinking that?

This past year has made me realize that a life rooted in intention is less chaotic and will help me focus how I need to be, with what I need to do it, and with whom it is.

Ooh! This is such a great idea and I'm excited for us to get started!

I started with easy words that I identify myself with and then I used a thesaurus to drill down even deeper to the adjective and noun I want to define me. The more specific the better.

I didn't choose simple words without the noun attached. I found it was too easy for me to use words like "fun, perky, annoying". We all know I'm those things.

By focusing them down to five, you find your priorities start to become concrete. 

It's much harder to put the adjective with the noun, you'll see- but it results in more of a defined statement. So although it may take more time and effort, the result is much more specific. For Example: ambitious prostitute.

Don't ask. It just came to me and I went with it.

I'll do mine and then you can do yours.

5 adjectives I want to define my LIFE

  • Skilled entertainer
  • Methodical learner
  • Conscientious conversationalist
  • Deliberate creative
  • Divergent thinker

**and then two bonuses that just came to me (mainly because I realized it would be sorta sh*tty to leave out my role as wife and mother)

  • Accessible mother
  • Accommodating wife

5 adjectives that I want to define the objects I CREATE

  • Spontaneous jokes
  • Ambitious ideas
  • Valued concepts
  • Joyous laughs
  • Methodic posts

5 adjectives that I want to define the RELATIONSHIPS I enter into

  • Honest confidants
  • Equal partners
  • Smart readers
  • Curious intellectuals
  • Magnanimous jokester

I know I know, mine are super specific. You may not really know what I mean for most of them, but that doesn't matter. The point is I know what they mean. I can them use them as my guide for when I stray off course, something that happens to me ALOT. 

It's easier to get specific about your words by using a thesaurus and dictionary in order to be as specific as possible. 

Specificity is the key to a good life. Who said that? Oprah?

No! Me! I said it. You're welcome.

I would never be vague on stage, why would I do it in real life?

Just for grins & giggles I'll explain how I got to my last "relationship" adjective: Magnanimous jokester.

What the hell is that and how did I put those two words together?

Well I thought, "I want people in my life who are funny, jokester type of people. I don't want a jerk jokester who takes advantage of peoples insecurities and makes fun of them. I want a person who uses thoughtful wit designed to make others feel good."

Did a little research, looked up some words. Boom. Magnanimous is a "generous or forgiving person, especially toward someone less powerful than oneself." 

MAGNANIOUS JOKESTER. 

So I want people in my lives who are funny but not in an asshole type of way. Get it?

Now you go to it. Don't worry if it's not specific enough. Anything is good enough to get you started. And if you're anything like me you'll wake up in the middle of the night thinking of the adjectives you should have used. 

Just me that is the dork here? I get it. 

But I'm a SPECIFIC DORK. 

Couldn't resist.

xo, Molly

The story of the yellow flats: addiction, meth and my next high

I've got an intense craving that isn't being fed. 

Two days ago I wrote about being a "happy depressive". Read it here. It's odd to me that I used the word depressed as if I have any idea what that word really means. Because I don't. I don't think I've ever felt depressed in my life really.

Like, ever.

But two days ago I wrote that I was depressed. Huh.

What I didn't say is that my mind and body feel like they're chugging along in a slow panic.

My center is calm, while my brain churns in a lower gear than normal, as if on a slow motion hamster wheel of thought.

Now as I write, I don't think it's a hamster wheel. Hamsters move fast. 

This is a lower gear. My mind is a ferris wheel, consistent and constantly moving. It's high and low. It's dragged out. It churns a cycle of thoughts during the day and a series of vivid dreams at night.

I called it depression.

I think I'm wrong.

Today as I drove to Whole Foods I had the thought that I should buy some shoes. Yellow flats to be precise. 

Okay, I admit, also perhaps a spring like top that would go with the shoes if I was feelin' it.

My mind clicked a little faster.

THREE times I thought about these shoes. Once at Peet's getting my morning tea, a spark. Then in the car driving over to the market, a flare. Once more while picking out avocados, I feel a familiar rush through my brain, a quickening in my heart and a lift in my blood pressure.

I want those f*cking yellow flats.

As I was deciding whether or not to get organic or conventional avocados it persisted. (I got organic btw.) That spike in my pulse is something very familiar but I realize I haven't felt it for a couple weeks. This is partially because of a new medication and I'm hoping because I am closing out week one of a 30 day regimen that concentrates on mindfulness, exercise, food and the rote of daily living that my therapist and I came up with called The Simple 30.. Each day the same.

I suddenly saw my cute yellow flats for what they were. 

The yellow flats are my meth. My body is craving a hit.

Oh sh*t, a hit of dopamine and those cute little yellow mother f-ers are gonna give me just that. 

And before you get all, Molly don't you think you're being a bit dramatic calling yourself a meth head? And I'm all no I'm totally not. And your all, I think you are and it's unfair to equate yourself to something that serious. And I'm all, okay maybe but that's why you read...let's just agree that it's somewhere in the middle and tell you this.

Methamphetamine increases the amount of the natural chemical dopamine in the brain. People with Bipolar 2 tend to overproduce dopamine resulting in mania like behavior.

Apparently, so do yellow flats.

I mean I'm not a doctor, but that just makes sense. 

My body and mind crave it. It has sky rocketed me forward in my career, made life exciting, been my partner in writing musicals, teach insane dance classes and intense voice lessons at the speed of light. It's pushed me through illness after illness as I perform.

It has caused me to not sleep at night but still produce heavily during the day. It makes me talk fast, spin fast, and argue intensely. It's colorful, bright, exciting, just like those cute yellow flats- and it's, no biggie, almost killed me.

They say people with a high dopamine personality are characterized by high intelligence (okay if you SAY so). 

They have a sense of personal destiny (well my quest is to be the white Oprah, or the straight Jillian Michaels, or maybe the next David Mamet?)

They have obsession with achieving goals and conquests, (the only way I get work done).

Lastly, they possess an emotional detachment that in many cases leads to ruthlessness, (I mean I'm not a serial killer or anything but I have been known to take someone DOWN with my words and intense argument style. Guess I should have been a lawyer and would've been much richer).

Maybe then I could afford those yellow flats.

Too much dopamine can push some people over that fine line between genius and madness. 

Now I'm not mad and I ain't no genius, but I do know this.

My body will no longer tolerate it. Just like an alcohol, sugar, exercise, food or whatever your drug of choice is, if I don't self regulate my dopamine spikes I will fly off the rails, spin out making myself mentally and physically get sick. At 41, my bank account is drained (literally), my relationships fail, and my cuppeth literally hath runneth over.

In therapy today I was able to come to the resolution that I am in withdrawal.

I've thrived and survived with dopamine for over twenty five years.

That's where The Simple 30 comes in. Yes-I've already branded it. Duh. 

My 30 day plan to live life as a modern lady monk. Trying to resist surges in dopamine that aren't natural, increasing endorphins which my body can handle, keeping calm, methodic, and yes sometimes, bored. What I thought was depression is most likely withdrawal. 

Rome wasn't built in a day. Neither was Molly's new life.

It doesn't have to be forever although it seems like it's taking forever. It's an exercise in patience, something I'm not so good at. 

It's living a life that's rooted in intention.

Not in yellow flats.

xo, Molly

13 reasons why so many women are having a midlife crisis

I've seen the articles circulating around the interwebs highlighting the fact that so many of us lady types are having a midlife crisis in our 40's. Through recent conversation with friends and okay okay gossiping about others, it seems there are a multitude of small little creeping fears that sneak up in our mind and in our hearts from time to time.

Or maybe minute by minute. You decide.

Some are just tiny little mother f*ckers.

You know, petty little thoughts that we don't care to admit. Others are thoughts we push out of our minds because they could be life altering if we were to indulge for too long.

Don't worry you don't have to admit them. I'll do it for you.

Blame it on social media, women taking on high powered roles but still contributing 75% of the home effort, having babies older, starting careers late, drinking too much coffee after lunch or anything else you can think of and boom! Midlife crisis.

Maybe you've got it together. To that I say I'll have a cup of what you're having.

For the rest of us read on.

You might not relate to the following at various points in your 40's. I'm guessing you have a girlfriend who has. Perhaps you've had these thoughts but have suppressed them way way down deep inside that c-section scarred tummy you're keeping flat with the double stretch lycra pants from Lulu. It's okay I won't tell anyone.

I wear them too. 

1.  We feel we are running out of time and quickly becoming irrelevant

It's easy to feel like everyone around you is younger, fresher, and has so much more time to get sh*t done. But I have news. 25-30 year olds are feeling the opposite of us. They're worrying about whether or not they should even want to get married. If they're waiting too late to have babies? Not wanting to have a baby at all and having to tell their parents. Maybe they want to have a kick ass career before they have anything and then look around and realize they're wrong. 

They're just laying the groundwork for their midlife crisis just like we did. We just didn't know it at the time.

2. We multi-task in our head, all day long, all night long

While I take my kids to gymnastics I can be found listening to a podcast, texting my husband to ask him if I can use the AMEX card, planning out what's for dinner, wondering if I'll have time to go the gym, and remember that my son has a report that he was supposed be doing for the past two weeks and it's due tomorrow.

I might also decide to drop my five year old at ballet, a 45 minute long class. Naturally, I run to Peet's to get a pick me up. Dash to Whole Foods to grab some organic chicken thighs. Order a green smoothie because I didn't eat any vegetables today. Hop in the car with five minutes to spare. Realize I don't have gas. Stop for gas and throw out the drawings my five year old has asked me never to get rid of. Pick the raisins out of the floor mats. Think about how I wish I was one of those people with a spotless car. Mentally note I should go to the carwash in the morning before it gets too busy. Realize I have two minutes to get to ballet but it's a 5 minute drive. Get back to the ballet class where another mom is putting on my daughter's shoes and looks at me saying, "You weren't here so I just went ahead and put on her shoes for her." 

Thanks.

3. We think about where we thought we'd be at this point in our lives

At this point in our lives we thought we'd be driving the car we always imagined ourselves in or lost the weight we've been trying to lose for ten years. We didn't think we'd be living paycheck to paycheck asking our partners if we can get a new dress for a wedding instead of paying the water bill and then considering going to Nordstrom, wearing it, taking it back, because no one will ever know and everyone does it. 

Except me. Not me. I don't do that.

Well I've done it twice.

Okay okay, thrice.

4. We think about that woman who has it all, and then find out she's five years younger

This one is so annoying. You know the one. Hair done perfectly in the morning, as in f*ckin HOT ROLLED curls. She drives a Land Cruiser Sport, white obviously. She doesn't have to work because her husband recently sold a company that makes micro chips for snowboarders.

She's starting her own organic baby tofu cheese line, and bt-dubs, is maybe considering having another child because she has several more years until her eggs are powder. And worst of all, she's nice. What a bitch.

Okay, now I'm the bitch. Let's move on.

5. We think about our ass, arms and thighs and the jiggly-ness that is occurring

I waved at someone the other day and my 11 year old literally laughed and I mean guffawed and then pointed at my arm flap. I literally almost slapped him. I didn't even know I had that. Guess I need to do some more weights and less cardio. Or maybe I can just go to that bio freeze place and pee and poop out the fat. That sounds better. It's a thing you know. 

6. We think about our careers and wonder if it's too late to find our passion

My friends with steady rockin' awesome corporate jobs that pay six figures wonder if they should stay home and start a champagne in a sippy cup business.

My friends who are stay at home moms wonder if they should scrap it all to help their husband make money and go back to practicing law. As an added bonus they could wear cute pencil skirts and a fresh white blouse.

Did I just say blouse? Is that like, still a thing?

Those who have passion project jobs worry that it's not passion filled enough. Many of them spend money on their passion filled jobs and feel guilty it is not a job, but rather a hobby and it's sucking them dry. 

My friends who are rich still worry about what job they should be doing even when they're well, RICH and could do anything they want. 

You know what this all proves? That the rich one should take us ALL out to dinner. Preferably at her time share in Cabo, obviously.

7. We are terrified as we watch our kids move from small time problems to big time problems

Little kid mistakes are basically little kid sized. Spilling OJ on newly Swiffer wet jet floors or taking a spill on their bike. Big kid problems start to loom large over our psyche and we find ourselves worrying about all the life altering decisions that will soon be out of our control. Sex, porn, eating disorders, driving, even worse driving and texting, and for f*cks sake, pregnancy. God I hope my children are late bloomers. Somehow I think not.

8. We wonder if we are still in love with our partners or if a friendship is good enough

Marriage goes through all sorts of ups and downs. Most of us inevitably will cross this bridge at some point. I have friends who are waiting until their kids are 18 and are outta there. A few think that even uttering the word divorce will commit them to something. There are those that say they would never ever even consider it and think any other woman who does is selfish.

There's the woman who is thinking that her husband has already moved on because he's getting texts and going into the next room and you know what she doesn't care so much. 

Then there are women who are receiving those texts from another man and are okay with it because it's just an emotional sorta thing.

There's just a lot. And who knows what to worry about? I'm not gonna tell you.

I used to be fairly judgmental about a lot of this. Now that I've been 18 years married, I'm not quite as dramatic. Thoughts are sometimes just thoughts and life is just sometimes life. We all do the best we can. Mistakes are made. Marriages are broken. Marriages can survive. Best not to be too dramatic. What seems terrible today might not feel quite too bad in a week, a month, or maybe even five years. 

9. We worry are we drinking too much alcohol in order to have sex with our partners

This sort of goes with the above doesn't it? I say go for it if you can handle the calories, are not an alcoholic, or if it isn't morning sex. That's just weird to me.  If you have to get up and gulp down three glasses of mimosas in order to have morning sex maybe something's going on there. Just sayin'.

I actually wondered this about me recently because I couldn't drink anything due to medication. I got into the routine of loosening up with alcohol, because like so many others, it's easy to think of it as a chore before the actual doing of it. Maybe a little buzz helps the buzz if you get what I'm buzzin' about. 

Wait, what?

The point is I don't think it hurts that much, but sometimes a good book will do the trick.

10. We worry we are drinking, eating, exercising, smoking, what-ever-ing too much in order to relieve some of the pressure

We all got our habits. Mine is sugar. My body should literally not be having ANY sugar. And yet get me next to a bag of sour gummy bears at 9 pm on a Tuesday after dance class and I'm gonna down those. It's even worse if I'm dieting, starving at 2pm and drive into the gas station where I literally pop into the convenience store for a pack of red vines.

NOT twizzlers. I'm not an animal.

11. We wonder if we are being too hard on our kids

Are we yelling at them too much? Scarring them forever like our dad did to us? Should we make them play piano because they have got to learn an instrument? Should we keep them at home more in the afternoons and let them have the childhood we had? Should we make them play soccer because they wanted to sign up for it and now they've changed their minds but we need to teach them to stick to something?

12. We wonder if we are being too easy on our kids

Are they never going to learn to clean their room because we're doing it for them? Did I f*ck up because I told her she was grounded for the weekend but feel sorry for her now and let it go? Should I send my child to Kumon for an additional 3 hours of homework after school like the whiz kid down the street? Should they not be watching YouTube because studies show it melts their minds, hearts and souls? 

13. We wonder at what point do we officially move from cool mom to just mom mom

If you're wondering this, it's probably already happening. I wear a fanny pack when I walk. Enough said.

And a whopper of a bonus for you: We worry about wanting more out of life and in the end disappointing ourselves

This sorta wraps back around to number one doesn't it? It just always feels like there's so much to do and so many options for us in modern day life that it's maybe easier to do nothing at all. We worry that one day, in the not-too-distant future, we're gonna pop our heads up from pining over other peoples lives on Facebook and realize we've wasted it all away. 

Well that's cheery isn't it?

The good news is there is comfort in remembering that we are all thinking about these sorts of things. Oh god. I hope it's not just me? Is it just me? Guys?

Is it just me?

No. I don't think so. Phew.

xo, Molly

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The Simple 30: A manifesto for living a Modern Lady Monk lifestyle for 30 days

I know. Complicated title. 

What is a Modern Lady Monk?

Well I'll tell ya in 30 days, but it's my version of a modern day gal (me) who lives a modern day life (mine) with intention, focus and clarity in order to create a calm zen life for myself (monk).

Why am I doing it? 

It was my therapists idea, in order to help me keep my bipolar 2 from cycling too rapidly and also to support my immune system in the face of my common variable immunodeficiency.

What is the plan?

To do the same routine each day with focused and calm intention. Like a monk. Just a modern lady monk.

Just go with it.

As my mentioned in my last post, if she's wearing soft elegant cotton or cashmere it's even better. But that's just not always reality, I'm looking at you old blue sweats with my husbands old t-shirt. Also perfectly acceptable, btw. I mean the goal isn't to be snotty.

You can switch out the L for M and Modern Man Monk if you'd like. Be my guest. 

I know it's important to write out what my MLM manifesto will be for the next 30 days. First, in order to set myself up for success I need to provide clarity around my principles and intentions.

Then I can lay out a structured, precise, and thorough plan of action.

I mean plan of zen.

These are my commitments, not to be confused with yours.

You will indeed have yours tailored to your own wants, needs and strengths. Mine reflect the daily practice I believe I need in order to have a fully realized 30 days. 

After consideration of this intention I have laid down my 11 tenants here.

The Modern Lady Monk Manifesto

1.  I commit to my meditation practice to clear my mind of clutter, social media influences, negative thinking, or overly worry about my weight, illness, kids, dog or whatever obstacles I face each day.

2.  I commit to keeping my house, car and desk clean and tidy, including drawers and good lord the garage.

3.  I commit to eating and cooking a wholesome, low sugar, low carbohydrate, diet and keeping my inflammation at bay. I will eat at least 3 servings of veggies a day.

4. I commit to writing daily as my one and only medium, without the emphasis being on the expectations of my success or dwelling on the possible failure. I will write from the heart, in my own voice, without comparison to others.

5.  I commit  to surrounding myself with people who I gain positive, honest energy from who have my back and I have theirs. I will allow them to support and help me, take their advice without judgement and I will do more listening than talking.

6.  I commit to reading, learning and researching something new each day.

7.  I commit to time spent with my family free of distraction and focus on their growth alongside my own.

8.  I commit to eating dinner as a family.

9.  I commit to bringing myself to the work I do, whether paid or unpaid, with focus, in depth preparation, and patience in order to achieve the satisfaction I receive from this when done well.

10.  I commit myself to doing one thing at a time and resist the urge to over stimulate.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading and I've hope I've inspired to you to think of your own Modern Lady/Man/Person Manifesto. Go at it and let me know how it goes.

xo, Molly

 

The Simple 30: Another anxiety attack comes roaring back

For 30 days I intend to do the same routine every day.

I'll explain.

I had a big set back a few days ago after thinking I was basically cured of Bipolar 2. What can I say? I've always had self confidence, and after two weeks of feeling fairly focused, eating well and having a relatively normal days I thought, "Yep, definitely cured now". 

Both of my doctors, primary and psychologist warned against this saying it was too soon to tell, but you guys-I wrote a musical in a year from start to finish-so I'm basically a genius. 

I mean I graduated with a 2.9. Get me a white medical coat.

Cut to a few nights ago I didn't sleep well, a humungous gigantic trigger. Basically the only real reason I'm sleeping with some success lately is because my psychiatrist has allowed me to take Ambien, god love her. I basically bugged the sh*t out of her for three days, explaining that I don't believe she understands the degree to which I don't sleep and the amount of stress surrounding it. If I wasn't on sleep meds I would go five nights in a row on 3 or so hours of panicked sleep and take no nap during the day, and in the process create 5 businesses, 8 websites, and a choreograph a gazillion dance classes. And boom, get sick.

Okay. Fast forward.

I started to spin out the following day. My mind said, "Okay, here's what on the agenda for today Molls, listen up. You will have no concentration, mania, rapid producing of stuff that you're not going to use because well, it's all...useless. Have fun!"

I contemplated the following careers within the span of 3 hours. Maybe I should be?

  • A Barista at Peet's Coffee
  • A waitress
  • A salesperson at Nordstrom
  • Going back to school to get my Psychology degree
  • Wait that would take too long-should I get my Marriage and Family Therapy License?
  • I'd make a good lawyer, I argue really well
  • Wait that would take too long and I don't have any money to go back to school maybe I should go on the internet and get my Life Coaching license.
  • And then back around to I should just be an actor. It doesn't pay much but I'm good at it and it's easy.

That, my friends is what an anxiety attack looks like for me. And before you say, we've all had that. Uh-uh. Complementing this anxiety attack is my body's response, crying. Often uncontrollably or if I'm lucky it just wells up every 5-10 minutes, but when it happens it does not feels not in my control and not connected to any rationality.

I cried in the aisle of Whole Foods while picking out pickles. 

I one time cried while eating a chicken fried steak. If you know me, a girl from Texas, who loves chicken fried steak...with gravy...fried okra...and a butter bun...and green jello. Nevertheless, I was crying.

Crying is the body's natural coping mechanism. Even if it's irrational, I find it best not to stop myself because holding in that feeling will cause another anxiety attack later that afternoon. 

And to the lady picking out kosher pickles next to me and wondering why this blonde chick was weeping over sweet or dill, I say, deal with it. 

Actually, it's pretty embarrassing. 

After crying I have a feeling of apathy and exhaustion. I don't have the ability to do much the rest of the day. My body has released most of the anxiety but leaves me feeling apathetic and uninterested in continuing through on any projects. 

Sometimes I can break out of it by exercising or walking. Usually I turn inward and put my earphones in and listen to podcast and books. I can do that for three hours and would continue until I was able to take that Ambien and fall asleep, but I'm a mom so that ain't happening. 

My children do not see any of this btw, they're blissfully unaware, or so it seems. Maybe they'll end up in therapy because of some deep seeded anxiety I have can't see, but most of us have that anyhow as we get older, some I'm not gonna take credit quite yet. Plus, I've always had a lot of doctors appointments so they're used to it. I will indeed be talking with them about all this though.

Transparency is key to my eventual success.

I would never want to hold something as big as this from them, as they might be afflicted by it one day. I have learned that mental illness runs rampantly throughout my family and I'd like them to have the tools rather than running around for 20 years thinking they're just high on life like I did.

Luckily I saw my therapist just two days later. I recounted what had happened and self diagnosed my own core issue. I have the unique ability to do that. It's as if I hover over my life as I spin from thought to thought and intuitive Molly analyzes and course corrects crazy Molly. This time I came to the conclusion that for now I do not want a gigantic career filled with ups and downs, excitement, fear, and general "bigness."

Right now my body craves simplicity calm, focused days, weeks, months, where I can get joy out of small even tasks and goals that perhaps no one even notices. 

  • Making the bed
  • Cooking a meal
  • Paying the bills
  • Writing

Simplicity. 

I crave it. I want it. I need it. My mind, however, spins me into a whirling dervish of thoughts and destroy any notion of my zen like hopes.

My therapist, who is just amazingly awesome and has basically saved me from years of misery, had the idea of me living life as a Modern Lady Monk.  Or a MLM for short. Actually, I made that name up. Sounds cuter and pinker than a regular robe wearing monk.

Just so you know The Modern Lady Monk wears soft relaxed cotton yoga wear from Athleta, and cashmere. I love me some cashmere.

For 30 days I will commit to doing the same thing everyday, write out on paper my commitment to myself and stick with it. 

I will not worry about the outcome, what happens on day 31, or making money. I will simply stay within the guidelines I have set for myself of my day and night. 

We call it The Simple 30

Thirty days of Molly living as a Modern Lady Monk. That doesn't mean doing nothing. I will outline my daily routine in my next post.

I felt immense relief upon contemplating this idea from my therapist, as I somehow needed to have permission from someone else to do it, for whatever psychological reason that is. 

And so I begin. 

This section of my blog will be dedicated to The Simple 30. A series that documents the what, why, and how of my 30 days. 

I'm a little nervous. My body and mind is used to chaos. It's my natural go to. It has moved my career forward at a rapid pace and now I need to embrace the slowness and perhaps monotony of everyday life. 

It may be boring. It may be simple. It may be tedious. 

But I guess I believe it will keep me alive.

I hope you all have a great Friday. I will be here.

Doing the same thing tomorrow.

xo, Molly