Boss Up with Bevin Your dream life is at the end of your comfort zone

2018-04-12

Three Strategies I Use to Combat Fear-Based Procrastination

I have been working on the production of the Fat Kid Dance Party workout video in some form for nine months. (I believe that fundraising to produce a project counts as production work though I’m sure there’s some industry distinction.) We shoot the video in two weeks and I’m really excited. And terrified. And engaging in some fear-based procrastination.

Decision making is really hard for me sometimes. My perfectionism flares hard when I’m up against a deadline. Suddenly I’m afraid of everything being wrong and it makes even minor decisions seem like they will destroy everything good that exists in the world if I choose incorrectly.

This is not unlike college when every decision about every paragraph in my 20 page papers seemed unsurmountable until I was hard pressed by procrastination. Only now do I understand this to be fear-based procrastination and that I do it as a coping mechanism.

Here’s the location we chose and some of the dreamy natural light. All photos by Emily Aguilar, the Director/Producer/Editor of all four workout videos.

I am having to approach my art in a new way and it is difficult for me to adapt to change. But I can love myself through this difficulty and I know by the time I do my next video production I will understand the process more and will have swifter clarity on my decisions.

So even though rationally I am lovingly accepting of my fear-based procrastination, it’s not making the overwhelm, stress and freak-out go away. Emotionally I feel a hot mess!

Here’s the advice my rational brain is giving my lizard brain.

1. Self Care Stretches Time.
I love this advice! My friend Kelli Jean Drinkwater’s therapist said this to her and I repeat it like a mantra. It’s like that adage it takes money to make money. If it costs you $200 to do self care that enables you to make $800 you’re still netting $600. If meditating in my hot tub helps me be even 5% more chill in a day I will produce more because I’ll feel less fear based procrastination.

We are going to incorporate the cool chairs in the space in the chair-based aerobics video! The background is a chalkboard!!

2. Step Away From The Project.
In the same vein, stepping away from a project generally allows creativity and inspiraton to flow back in. Like when you cut off circulation in a limb with a bandage and you release it all the blood goes rushing back to the limb. When I get into stress and overwhelm I am just not as productive.

This morning, stressing over what music to commission to use for when I teach the line dance during my workout video, I wasn’t making any progress on that decision. I cried real tears on the phone with a friend and we decided I needed to take a break. I went to the grocery store and overhead I heard a song that inspired me to know how to direct my composer to create the right beat.

It’s usually best for me when I step away and do something sensory, like be in nature or go swimming so I get my brain into a different state. But, hey, I’ll take inspo from the grocery store!

We did not choose this space because it was up a rickety flight of stairs. No thanks! But we did take a couple bonus photos which are always useful for my social media.

3. Talk to friends.
I have the inclination when I’m overwhelmed to wall off other humans and not talk to them, instead just focusing on work. But I actually get work done faster when I connect to another human.

When I take time to talk things through with people (aka processing, which I normally don’t love) I suddenly gain new clarity and get better perspective. Even today telling McKay how I was feeling and having them mirror to me that they were also feeling overwhelmed by decision-making validated my feelings! Like maybe it’s not me maybe it’s Mercury Retrograde and it’s just hard right now and it’ll get easier.

Or maybe the other person can help you find new ways of doing things that help you make it easier. Or connect you with Big Freedia’s people so you can successfully license Peanut Butter. Or maybe the other person wants to buy the workout videos, which happen to still be available for sale through IndieGoGo’s perpetual funding situation, and thus help create the production to add cool stuff to level up the experience.

I want to end this note on a big positive because it’s just who I am. So here’s what I’m celebrating:

1. My Executive Producer Marcy scored a MAJOR clothing sponsor and the outfits are going to be so cute! I can’t wait to share about it!
2. I get to hire a chalkboard artist to do a Fat Kid Dance Party design on a chalkboard for the background of one of the workout videos!!
3. Fat Kid Dance Party aerobics was mentioned in the New York Times this morning!! I was interviewed for a piece about being a plus size bride. I gave some advice for using that time to get more positive about your body as it is rather than having to change it!

2016-04-27

LA Transition Month 3: I Started Swimming

We’ve officially been LA residents for three months! I got my CA Driver’s License finally. I got my DL when I was 17 and living in the Bay Area, so they managed to find my old record and give me my old number. (Big Brother is real.) I had a little disagreement with the entirely pleasant clerk who took my application. I stated “red” on the hair color question. However, I actually identify my hair color as “Ginger Spice.” She had to fight me about whether I am blonde because when I was 16 and got my permit I was blonde. I don’t identify as blonde but I guess because of bureaucracy that’s what is happening on my ID. Lots of people don’t have their true identities on these documents and I’d rather work towards a third no gender marker on IDs than self-selected hair color.

IMG_20160413_194959I guess with the bangs now I look more blonde than ever, other than in high school.

I was stressing about taking the test because I know some folks who have flunked the first try, so I wanted to just get it. I needed my license in order to go to the Medical Marijuana dispensaries to use my prescription I got back in February. I’ll post about the process, it is fascinating and has really helped me physically, mentally and emotionally. For anyone getting their CA DL I suggest reading the manual once through and doing the practice tests online. I’ve had to take written tests in most of the states I’ve been licensed in, having hopped from CA to NJ to PA to NJ to NY in my life, but never felt as stressed as I did this time. I think I’m just tender right now and prone to stress.

I passed on the first try after reading the manual a few hours leading up to my DL appointment, and while I was waiting. It still took two hours of waiting in lines to get my license in spite of the appointment, so definitely make an appointment.

IMG_20160413_174934794I made this dog bed for Macy out of a vintage suitcase from Goodwill ($10), an old pillow (free dollars) and a vintage blanket with a stain on it I got at the World’s Longest Yard Sale ($0.50).

You know that old chestnut “I’ll do it when things settle down.” I started saying that to myself a few weeks ago when we were dropping everything to prepare our house for the Seder for Dara’s family and then preparing the Seder and then the tea pre sale and then preparing my Schedule C info for my accountant to file my taxes (this is like a week of non-stop accounting and bookkeeping) and then… I’ve had so many projects back to back and not achieved any semblance of balance and I’ve been reminded (I’ve realized this before and forgot) that I need to bring my own serenity to every situation. And that I can’t just keep dropping everything to focus all of my attention on one thing with a deadline.

This is how I lived in Law School, it’s how I have lived when I’ve been the most high strung and I can’t live like that. I need to plan, sort, execute, and let go of the stuff that’s not that important. I need to live in alignment with my values!

I decided that I would start organizing my schedule around my self care. And the thing that is the best at helping me chill the F out is exercise. I do it primarily for my mental and emotional health, but it also really helps with my physical and spiritual health as well. Since I haven’t joined a gym yet, waiting for the body positive gym Everybody Los Angeles to open somewhere around here, I decided to start going to lap swim at the community pool. Because we have those here, and some of them are outdoor heated pools.

I had to do some clever searching because the LA website just gives you addresses not neighborhoods, and some of the pools close in the “Winter” here. But the Glassell Park pool, just a six minute drive from my house, was a great candidate.

bevinatpoolMe at the Glassell Park Pool.

When I showed up for the first time and paid my $3.50 I was amazed to see that the locker room looked just like it did in the community pools in the Bay Area where I grew up. I remember as a kid those cement floored, wooden benched locker rooms with modesty changing areas that only cover you from the neck to the calves. So that means this locker room hasn’t been updated in thirty+ years. Amazing. And when I went out to the pool after giving my bag to the locker room attendant behind the window in exchange for a safety pin with a number on it, I marveled at how huge the Olympic size pool is. And how few rules there are.

My recent public swimming experience is from swimming at the Bed Stuy YMCA in Brooklyn. An indoor year-round pool with strict rules and schedules. Lap swim means lap swimming only, you must wear a cap, when more than two people are in a lane circle swimming is mandatory. These are all spelled out on a long list of rules.

Here there are very few rules other than no running on the pool deck. No caps required! No lap swim guidelines except the lifeguard’s half-hearted “You have to share the lane” when a man was super rude to me. Lap swimming and recreational swimming are at the same time. It’s a bit intimidating to go swimming in public for the first time, especially as a fatty, so I brought Dara as my body positive ally. It was great, I swam for almost an hour, alternating between swimming and aqua jog moves. I love aqua jog, that will be another post.

I have kept going, managing three times a week most weeks for the past month. It’s still cheaper than going to a gym and it’s been helping me. I need to add yoga to my routine to stretch more, but this is a nice way to center.

IMG_20160412_191109Unfucking the guest room.

The house continues to come together. Sadly my Mariah Carey closet hasn’t been sorted out, so once my friend Taylor helped me get everything upstairs and put on the floor or hung on the pipes, that’s where it has laid. I can’t wait for it to be in full working order. Every time I go up there to get dressed I’m kind of drawing from my red suitcase or various piles. It’s pretty much the opposite of what I imagine it can be.

Dara and I were dissatisfied with the orientation of our bed. We paid to move a bunch of my mom’s hand me down furniture from the Bay to LA (I detailed this in a previous post) and the movers set it up originally. I didn’t find it accessible for me to walk around a CA King size bed to the other side of the room so Dara took one for the team. The snuggle position required from that orientation had me on Dara’s left side, which is the side she had a cancerous tumor removed from her breast. It’s more sore, it had radiation and surgery. So we decided to try the bed against a window. (Not my favorite aesthetic choice, but definitely an improvement in snuggle land.)

sleepnumberbed

Here’s some advice about moving a sleep number mattress. Make sure it is completely zipped up before you move it. If you do not do this step, it will fall apart into a bunch of pieces and look like a play space for 3 year olds. There will be foam and air mattresses everywhere, because all a sleep number is is a very expensive air mattress with foam on top of and surrounding it. This bed cost $4,000 apparently and is an air mattress. It took us over an hour to put it back together and get the bed set-up again. I’m excited to someday buy a Casper or a Tuft and Needle mattress–if you know anyone who sleeps on one ask them if you can lay on it, they are exquisite and much less expensive than standard retail mattresses.

sleepnumberbed2Dara is physically in that mattress in this photo.

Anyway, so far the bed in the new spot is fine, but we have to sell and replace the nightstand we had because it is way too big to fit on either side of the bed. Two steps forward one step back is going to be the title of the memoir about moving cross country into a house without a bunch of money or the correct furniture.

IMG_20160408_133050515_HDR

We finally moved everything into the guest room from the staging area in the dining room before the Seder. While Dara was away on business again for 8 days, I tackled the guest room and made it so we could blow up our fancy air mattress (that cost $100, which is literally pennies compared to a sleep number mattress…) for our second overnight guest, Jacqueline. This just meant a lot of stuff got Tetrised against the wall but progress not perfection is my motto. To be transparent, though, it feels hard for it not to be perfect.

IMG_20160426_221241373The wall of the guest room looks like this right now.

I set up all of my tea stuff in the dining room because for now I am in and out of it a lot and need it accessible. On the long-range plans are to convert our cellar (presently storage) to a tea studio.

IMG_20160416_133608285_HDRFemme Tea Party offerings: Hibiscus Coconut iced tea (I’ve added Nettles to the blend and it’s amazing), Self Love iced tea, Dolly Mint iced tea, Feelings tea served hot.

I’ve been getting amazing feedback about my first round of Reiki Infused Teas that I sent out. Only one got lost in the mail, which did eventually find its way to the intended recipient along with the replacement tin I sent–she joked that she must have needed a lot of Feelings Tea support. I believe in the Universe and so maybe yeah. That Scorpio Full Moon was extra difficult. I learned a LOT about the process of starting a product based business and am learning a lot in B-School.

B-School is good but slow going. Marie Forleo gives all this bonus content when you sign up and one of them, Start the Right Business, is required reading before you begin her modules. With 60 pages of reading and exercises, that itself was a lot of work. I’m glad they tell you right away to go at your own pace because I needed my own pace.

IMG_20160414_214512721Jacqueline is the first person to wear a bikini as an outfit on our porch.

Jacqueline and I did a bunch of stuff while she was in town. We went to In-N-Out Burger and the Pleasure Chest on her first night. We had Korean BBQ with my favorite plus size porn performer turned incredibly sweet, smart and wonderful person I know in real life April Flores (we called it BBW BBQ). We went to Disneyland with our friend Jenni, James Darling, Jenni’s sweetie Fin and her friend Michele. It was epic, there’s another forthcoming blog post.

IMG_20160416_182418Femme Tea party part one!

IMG_20160416_182219Femme Tea party part two!

I hosted a Femme Tea Party where I served four kinds of my tea blends and made some delicious rice crispie treats with Good For Me Lifestyle’s amazing Energize Me Better Butter. My guests got Reiki infused tea and delicious superfood supplement treats–I love being that woo kind of hostess.

IMG_20160416_133634312_HDRAlso included in the snacks were gluten-free scones made by Jenn and guacamole from my avocado tree.

I kind of ran away to visit Grandmother this weekend. I knew I owed her a visit having not been since early March, but also I wanted to get away. Sometimes running a house and not having the house set up completely feels overwhelming. The Scorpio Full Moon was in full effect and making me feel at odds with lots of things, including Dara. It’s nice to have family you can go visit in someplace beautiful. This guy at a pizza place asked why I wasn’t at Coachella (it’s really close to Palm Springs) and I said I was going to have a lot more fun swimming in my Grandmother’s pool listening to Guns and Roses.

IMG_20160424_201350

All in all I would say that LA is gorgeous, I love living here, the transition is hard, I’m not sure if I miss NYC, I’m overwhelmed with how much I have left to do to settle into my house and I’m really excited to get my tea company running so I can make a living off being a tea proprietress. The next pre sale will probably start on Monday. I had been hoping for this week but there’s a lot going on here. Dara got a grant to throw a 30 person Seder dinner in our backyard. Even as I’m not in charge of it, there’s still a lot for me to do.

2016-02-04

LA Week Two: Progress Not Perfection

When we were planning our move to LA from Brooklyn, we agreed that I would spend the first couple of weeks here setting things up. I genuinely believed that spending most of my time for two weeks would be enough to get us unpacked and functional.

I was really really really wrong.

We got our house fast, and we literally had one day to prepare before we moved in. I spent that day setting up our movers, electric, gas, renter’s insurance, wifi and whatever other services I’m forgetting.

artsyfleaWhile we were yard saling we saw this flea market near our place off the freeway. We thought we’d go see what cheap furniture we could get, but as soon as we rolled up we realized this was an LA answer to the Brooklyn Flea, a super expensive bougy “after” market for flea market items that have been flipped. It’s called the Artsy Flea. $11 hot dogs. Not our budget, but really cute to walk around in and get ideas. Plus we signed up for a local CSA.

We started at a deficit in terms of comfort. We have an airbed leftover from when Dara was going through radiation treatment and got a great free sublet three blocks from the radiation hospital so her daily radiation treatments didn’t have to involve a schlep. We bought her the fanciest airbed we could find on Amazon and it’s actually pretty comfortable. So we had that in the trunk going cross country for times when we needed a physical bed in order to stay with folks. But since space was a premium I only packed one blanket, one set of sheets and two pillows.

Our first night in the house we FROZE. We have these original from the 1920s windows that are basically like being outside because they don’t stay flush to each other and there’s no window insulation. That one quilt was not cutting it. As I talked about in my last post, we were also eating out of a cooler for a week while waiting for our new fridge.

I just had no idea how much work it was going to be to move into a house (even if it’s roughly the square footage of a big two bedroom apartment if you don’t include the attic). Those first couple of nights we had no furniture and then our movers came two days later with all of our boxes and our furniture.

closetworkSlowly working on my closet installation.

Especially moving into a house with only five pieces of furniture. I decided I only wanted stuff that sparks joy in my new house, so while working towards that I left behind anything that didn’t spark joy or wasn’t worth the cost to move cross country. I knew I’d be furnishing from thrift stores and yard sales and craigslist. (Since we’re living off savings we had a pretty minimal furniture budget, and most of that budget is paying to move a sofa, a bed and my childhood ephemera from my mom’s house. She’s selling her 3 bed 2 bath in the East Bay–Castro Valley–if you’re interested.)

I actually prefer furnishing this way, because it gives me more liberty to DIY (I love crafting and working on furniture is like leveling up for me). Because I lived in Brooklyn with no outdoor space, anytime I wanted to spraypaint it was a hassle. Weirdly waiting on weather (sometimes it is endlessly and unpredictably rainy, snowy or too cold) before getting to paint things and use clandestine parts of my apartment building. I just hoped people walking by wouldn’t go into the nook I was leaving things in to dry and steal them.

In contrast, I took a break from writing this post to go put another layer of spray paint on boards that will soon be shelves in my closet. And I can just leave them out in the back because they’re not going to get screwed with.

launchpadI am so into this Craigslist find–this curio cabinet was $60. I can’t wait to find my lampshades and get my lamps rolling.

My DIY passion has also created an EPIC list of projects I want to do to prepare our home. We’re setting up a memorial garden for all of our loved ones who have POTSA (Passed On To Something Awesome) in the side yard by the fountain. I’m planting an herb garden behind the house. My pinterest is poppin with ideas.

Not to mention the amount of logistical fuckery and hours on the phone with Time Warner because it turned out our landlord gave us the wrong address for the house, so while we were physically living in the space, we had to fix our address by one digit on everything. And Time Warner has required six hours on the phone to work this out. I seriously wish I had just canceled the service, returned the equipment and asked for a fresh install because it has wasted so much of my time. We also ended up with no electricity for one night because of the electric company and the last resident’s unpaid electric bill and the address issue. We signed our lease during Mercury Retrograde, perhaps I could have expected logistics issues.

I have experienced the weird period of time after a cohabitation break-up or a move where you don’t have appropriate furniture, but I just didn’t remember how frustrating it can be.

homedepotcarSo many trips to Home Depot, and neither my car nor Dara’s car has backseats that fold down. I didn’t even know they made cars that didn’t have backseats that fold down.

Not having furniture right away means a lot of creative adapting and literally looking around my house and seeing projects. Which is very difficult and kind of stressful for a recovering perfectionist. It can mean I am only seeing myself in a deficit. I’m awash in an environment full of shoulds. I should do this. I should do that.

It’s hard to look around and give myself credit for having unpacked 10 boxes that day or managing to carve out a work station to get some work done. (I’m still working for a few clients remotely.) I don’t see the curtains that took us hours to find while yard saling and thrifting, washed and managed to put up. I forget to really look at my fridge that I’ve owned for almost a week and get to put my veggies in!

csafirstdeliveryThe local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) delivers to your doorstep! It felt like Santa came on Wednesday morning when I walked out to find my box of veggies and farm fresh eggs!!! I get to pick the vegetables that come in my box, too, which was my major complaint about my last CSA, other than having to go pick it up without a car and how heavy kolrahbi is. If you’re in the LA area and interested in signing up, use my referral code: farmfreshtoyou.com BEVI4286 so I get credit for free veggies and you get $10 off your first box. The veggies and fruit are roughly the same price as going to the grocery store, could be cheaper if I bought a bigger box.

Since I like to think of stress as an optional and toxic energy, I work hard to find my positivity and my chill. I am trying to see this as an adventure and carving our amazing house out of the possibilities is a slow and fun process. I am trying to stay in gratitude and keep the “We did all this!” perspective rather than the “We need to do ALL THAT” overwhelm.

I have been creating this thing I’m calling “Mega Bed” out of the airbed. We borrowed two sleeping bags from my aunt after that first freezing night (it is SO nice having awesome relatives nearby). Every pillow and blanket I pull out of boxes ends up on Mega Bed and makes it the ultimate in comfort and nest. Without a sofa there’s not a lot of places to really kick it in here.

megabedMega Bed.

I set up a staging area for things that don’t have a place yet. It makes me feel better to have a place to unpack to even if we don’t have a home for it yet, and gives me a way to really see at a glance what we need in terms of organization.

And the other day when doing work it felt like literally everything was a communication cluster fuck (Monday–it felt astrological) I just decided to take a break from it, went and took a bath and watched and entire episode of Property Brothers. I just went for self care for 45 minutes and then when I came back 90% of what I was struggling with before had emails in my inbox with resolutions.

macyinherbedonporchAmong many of our needs right now are endless pet beds, we have to drag Macy’s one bed everywhere in the house we go hang out in.

That reminded me how important my self care is in all of this. I need to carve out space/time to take care of myself otherwise the overwhelms will get bigger and the stress more persistent. I’m living my dreams, I don’t want to ruin it by being stressed out.

I put up a list of all of the things I love about my house and our progress on the fridge. To help me keep a positive perspective. I started working on a daily routine because routine is a form of self care, so is scheduling! I started our first meal plan. Eating in alignment with my body is important to me and has been really hard while we’ve been traveling and in flux. And eating out of a cooler before the stove worked.

Also, I keep remembering, it’s only February 4th and we’re already living in the house we visioned for. That’s spectacular progress.

2015-10-08

Saying Goodbye to NYC: On Leaving, Change, Grief and Anxiety

I have this grief about leaving Brooklyn that hits me in waves. I am profoundly curious and excited about this new chapter in my life. I haven’t experienced a drastic geographic change in 15 years. I’m a totally different person than I was when I left CA. I’m so curious what it is going to be like. But also, I’m bummed about leaving a lot of the things I love about NYC behind. I’m working really hard not to let my grief and anxiety interfere with my ability to love the process and let go of NYC in a mindful way.

bevinatnybgOn my NYC Bucket List was going to the New York Botanical Gardens, which currently features an amazing Frida Kahlo exhibit. It includes fourteen pieces of her artwork and a whole recreation of the gardens of her famed home, Casa Azul.

When I was 29 and my fiance had just broken up with me and I was kind of a disaster, my friend Kelli Dunham gave me a cd about the grief process. I didn’t realize at the time that you could have grief about things that weren’t death. I just thought you powered through yucky feelings by ignoring them. Learning how to deal with grief and anxiety has been a long road and I’m still working through it.

I am going to miss my friends. I’m going to miss all of the tremendous cultural opportunities living in NYC–mostly all of my weirdo Downtown artist friends’ shows. I am going to miss Fall foliage (strategically moving just after foliage, when the gorgeous Gaywitchmas decor lines the streets and just before deep snow times). I’m going to miss the ability to skip car traffic and hop in a subway car to get places. There is grief about leaving that behind.

FridapyramidSince I’m moving someplace in a warm climate I got a lot of great ideas for my future gardens in LA. I love the way the colors of the plants popped against the bright colors of the buildings and pyramid at Casa Azul.

I want to approach this move in a mindful way that is as low stress as it can be. Last night I mentioned to Dara my anxiety level and she’s like “What are you anxious about?” I said, “Um, how about my impending move across the country?” Even the best laid plans and the most time you have to execute them still come with lots of unknown anxieties and that’s kind of buzzing along in the back of my head. I do all the things I know to do to handle my anxiety, including buckets of self care, meditation, faith that the Goddess has a plan for me and is taking care of everything behind the scenes on my behalf and still more self care. Yet still, part of having feelings that are difficult to experience is just acknowledging them. Hi anxiety. You are there still.

So my anxiety is telling me “Do ALL the NYC things you might possibly miss! Schedule ALL the hangouts with your friends! Fill up ALL of your time with moving prep!” But my self care mind is telling me, actually, slow the fuck down you started getting sick this week. Do what you can. It will all be okay. It will all be okay. It will all be okay.

casaazul

Ever since I stopped doing monthly queer parties, I definitely changed how I interact socially. Going through chemo as Dara’s support was a big part of recentering myself towards hanging out at home. At first it was out of necessity and then it became part of how I interacted with the world. I think this is also a product of getting older, and have heard queer friends in their thirties, forties and fifties talk about shifting priorities and not focusing on nightlife for socializing any longer.

There’s also this thing where everyone in NYC is really busy. There’s a necessary hustle to living here because it’s not cheap and my friends tend to be working artists. So they hold down day jobs/day hustles, side hustles, artwork, gigs, rehearsals, etc…

Remember that line in Clueless where Cher’s dad says “Everywhere in LA takes 20 minutes!!” In NYC I think that’s more like 45 minutes. The subway is convenient but it takes awhile, and busses take forever–often they just don’t show up. So if you factor in 45 minutes to get to Crown Heights from South Brooklyn neighborhoods it is hard to squeeze that into an evening. Am I naive to hope that things are a little bit different in a town where most folks drive?

bevinmacvictoriaThe other day I got to do one of my favorite things which was a spontaneous dinner hang with two of my favorite people at once! Mackenzi and Victoria!

I also just got kind of fatigued with how much work it takes to schedule a hang out in NYC sometimes. When people are busy and you get to the third round of times that don’t sync up… This summer I made plans with a couple of friends of mine 2 months out to go to Spa Castle. I totally guarded that time like a precious jewel because it was so hard to get it on the calendar and I wanted to see my friends.

I have also been on a journey to move towards centering self-care into my life–making taking care of myself a priority. Having blank space on my calendar to work on my day job work or my art work is important, it’s also important that I get to the gym, and not to burn myself out running around. Where I used to say yes to everything and fill up my calendar with back to back plans, now I’m more hesitant because I want to conserve my energy for the work I want to be doing in the world. I changed the way I eat, which means I cook for us a lot. It’s much easier and cheaper to eat a whole foods diet* if you cook at home, but that also means I spend a lot of time cooking and cleaning.

nybglilypond

So I had all of these shifts in my life, many of which contributed to my decision to move in the first place, but it also means so many of my precious NYC friends became people I see only every 4 to 6 months.

When I was doing my “should I or shouldn’t I” thinking about moving I realized that if I move away and am still working somewhat bicoastally, I’ll still see my NYC friends about every 4 to 6 months, just in more concentrated doses during visits rather than sporadically during our busy New Yorker lives. I’m hopeful that will work out.

Each time I catch-up with a friend I haven’t seen in 4 to 6 months (or sometimes longer) I am struck at how connections don’t necessarily have to have time limits. I love the experience of having so many friends with whom I have connections that time does not expire. That’s radical, beautiful abundance. It’s kind of weird to be like “Okay, so in the past 6 months all this has happened” with someone who is not a friend from out of town, but that’s a totally legitimate way to sustain connections with people we don’t get to see day to day. And in NYC there are few folks we get to see day to day unless we work or live with them, roll in a crew that prioritizes group hangs, or you see your neighbors often. (I have some neighbors I really love who I rarely see because our schedules don’t overlap.)

meandamandaAmanda moved away from NYC years ago and it is always a joy to get to see her again! Photo by Sarah Jenny.

So in part, my handling of moving anxiety and grief is going with the flow when it comes to getting my last minute NYC enjoyment in. I can’t possibly go to all the museums I’d like to see before I go, I probably won’t get to squeeze everyone before I go. Having an abundance mentality, where I know I can try to see folks as much as possible, putting it out there that I want to have hang outs while I’m decluttering and packing, sending around potluck invites, prioritizing quality time AND self care… Even looking at my life and being able to acknowledge that I’m having grief and anxiety is huge progress compared to who I was just 8 years ago. That’s what I’m experimenting with to handle my grief and anxiety.

That and remembering that I get to see lots of people I love once we are headed to LA. Both on the trip out through the South and once we get there. Life is change, the Goddess is change, and with change comes grief and anxiety.

bevinpyramid

*It is also not cheap to eat a whole foods diet and food justice programs that work towards making whole foods more accessible to low income folks is work I really admire and want to amplify. Do you do food justice work and want my help amplifying? Please get in touch!

2014-03-04

Seven Strategies to Curb Anxiety

Towards the end of January I had a little bit of a break-down. I just felt completely overwhelmed and anxious. I wasn’t sure why. I had spent most of the weekend doing self care activities and was walking home from the gym on the phone with Jacqueline saying, “I just don’t know why out of nowhere I feel so anxious and it won’t go away!” And Jacqueline wisely told me that sometimes when she does self care like yoga or something very relaxing she ends up with more anxiety. That resonated with me. It feels like when I don’t acknowledge my feelings of anxiety and overwhelm, it’s like a cork that releases all this pent up stuff I haven’t been looking at and poof! I can’t get away from it.

As a result of this little mini-breakdown, I am obsessed with self care right now. I’m talking to people about their self care regimens, being more methodical about what I need from myself in order to be the person I want to be in the world. I now acknowledge that when it comes to taking care of others, the more I have the more I can give. My well has to be 100% full in order for me to give water to anyone else, and I’m in the role of primary caregiver to my girlfriend (yeah, we went there) who is going through chemo treatment for breast cancer right now.

12417512173_a30b444fb5_zI went away for a birthday retreat with my friends in February and it was all about finding a place with a hot tub. I love to meditate in a hot tub when it’s cold outside.

I am going to do a mini-blog series about self care and in this first post I detail what I do to handle anxiety when it comes. There are lots of ways to deal with anxiety, of course, but this is what has worked for me and what works for some of my pals. Obviously, there are varying degrees of anxiety and some folks should consider seeing a mental health professional, but for those who have kind of spotty occurring anxiety like me, hopefully these tips will help.

1. Pay attention and course correct.

I treat feelings of anxiety and overwhelm as warning signs. They’re my own personal “check engine light,” some kind of acknowledgement my body, mind and/or spirit needs attention. If I’m having anxiety come up more often than usual than I know something is wrong and I need to do the work to assess what’s going on in my life and where the imbalance is. If I were on Car Talk and talking about running a diagnostic, I would do the things I know to do when I need to diagnose what’s going on with me. Journal, phone a trusted friend, stop and look at what’s going on in my life. In the January example, I knew what was going on–I had three friends and one of my cats pass away in a three week span in December on top of being primary caregiver for someone with cancer. Any one of those things is a lot! I needed to be gentle with myself and take care of myself and the check engine light came on!

When I’m feeling anxiety, it’s hard to know in the moment that I need to do something differently, in the moment all I can do is think “Fuck, how can I make this stop?” Then I turn to more immediate solutions.

2. Drink stress relieving tea.

Over my Christmas trip to visit my mom and grandmother I woke up feeling intense anxiety one morning. (I think this was another moment where I was relaxing and the cork popped out and all the grief and anxiety I was feeling came out.) I didn’t have anything that could cut the anxiety in the moment, so I went rummaging through Grandmother’s tea cabinet to see if she had any chamomile. Lo and behold, she still had the tea sampler I created as a hostess gift for my cross country road trip two years ago. Fully intact, it held in it four kinds of loose tea including “Stressed Out Tea.” It was like a gift to myself from the past. I drank that tea like I was chain smoking, one cup after another and within a couple of hours it started to work.

I bought the Stressed Out Tea from PS Coffee and Tea in Park Slope, but here are the ingredients if you want to create it yourself. Stressed Out Tea (blend of lots of herbs to calm down including rosemary, peppermint, chamomile, lady slipper, catnip, violet, feverfew, wood bettany herb, blessed thistle herb, white willow bark, stevia herb, raspberry leaf and flavored with peppermint oil).

841322_156802627802561_896072570_oPhoto by Katrina Del Mar.

3. Treat self care like a job.

Self care is a really important aspect of my anti-anxiety routine. The best thing I can do for my anxiety is to prevent it from happening. I like to say self care is a full time job, which it kind of can be, especially in the Winter when we have all the Winter Feelings and seasonal depression.

The other day I was staying with friends and they told me, “We go to bed at 9:30.” Which is an amazing example of prioritizing getting the sleep they need and having a mellow, unrushed morning. I have so much admiration for people who prioritize their self care.

Since my breakdown in January I have been very strict about doing all the core self care things I do every single day. I knew I hadn’t been doing the things I usually do every day, I was skipping some. I was in love jail, snuggled up with my sweetie in Winter and mistaking those temporary good feelings with the things I need to do for my own sanity in the long run.

4. Cut the caffeine.

Eliminating caffeine from my diet has been great for keeping my anxiety at bay. Some days I have none, some days I have a little, but I keep it in check as much as possible. I started the Lesbian Tea Basket web series when I gave up coffee for digestive reasons. Replacing my passion for coffee with tea wasn’t exactly a substitute (I still dearly, desperately, love coffee) but I do now feel very passionately for tea in a way I didn’t expect. I think the herbal aspects of tea are medicinally great but I also think the ritual of brewing and consuming a hot beverage is very soothing.

12919823273_ca4b451d5b_z

5. Exercise.

It’s such a hassle sometimes, but exercise is so crucial to my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. It soothes everything for me. If I can keep it up at least twice a week it’s great to keep me from getting depressed or anxious.

6. Medicate.

There are a lot of people I know who medicate for anxiety. I’ve never gotten a prescription for anything mental health related, but haven’t ruled out the possibility. There’s so much stigma associated with mental health prescriptions but honestly, I think stigmas around what people need to do for their mental health are bullshit. If you have a headache you take an advil, if you have anxiety and a pill will help, maybe take the pill? I’m definitely a follower of the Kate Bornstein philosophy of living:

Do whatever it takes to make your life more worth living. Anything at all. It can be illegal, immoral, unethical, self-destructive… anything at all if it makes your life more worth living. There’s only one rule to follow to make that kind of blanket permission work: Don’t be mean.

I just got some Rescue Remedy to see if an herb tincture (they also have pastilles/candy and gum) could help me in those moments where in emergency I need to break glass. So far it seems to work though I’ve only done it a couple of times when I was mildly stressed and haven’t had a major anxiety bout since I got the tincture.

12920136864_a0d32bb286_z

I have some friends who medicate with klonipin (one of them just nibbles a little on a pill to take the edge off an anxiety episode), ativan, and xanax. Obviously you’ll go see a mental health professional or general practitioner who can advise about prescription meds.

Other friends I know with chronic anxiety use medical marijuana. For those who don’t know there are like a billion kinds of marijuana and there are lots of different ways to use it. Depending on your body chemistry there are kinds that just take the edge off the anxiety and you can still function (“cleaning the kitchen” weed) or others that make you want to sit on the couch. I am into watching documentaries about the medical marijuana dispensaries on Netflix and what it can do for folks. Again, this is totally something to go talk to a professional about if you’re in a jurisdiction that has the medical marijuana.

7. Meditation.

I am a shitty, inconsistent meditator. However, if I can take a minute to stare at some birds and ponder what they are up to, look up at the sky for thirty seconds, or close my eyes and just notice what sounds I hear, that will do me as much good as sitting in a chair with my eyes closed trying really hard to think about nothing. It’s really not much more for me than a way to ground myself in the present and remind myself that I am safe. When I’m feeling anxious I am not feeling safe.

12919812773_f0c6e5949d_zThis bird feeder was right next to the hot tub at the house we stayed at!

I hope this not comprehensive list helps out when folks are feeling frustrated by bouts of anxiety. Leave your tips in the comments!

Powered by WordPress