Getting my zen back

Well, it’s been a really long time since I blogged regularly. That many-months-long gap is a reflection of well…life.

I realize what blogging does for me…
Why is today my attempt to get back here?  Well, this morning I was reflecting on the things that make me feel good and this is one of them. It’s not just the act of blogging, but it’s more about the kind of place I’m in when I make this blog a priority.  I’m in a centered place, a place where I am focusing on what my body needs for optimal function, when I’m eating my best and in turn, feeling my best. It’s when I’m in a creative space, trying to renovate recipes for my family so we can all enjoy a range of diverse meals. And that brings me back to “centered”. Instead of focusing all of my energy outward into the demands of other people, I am focusing inward and listening to my body and feeding it what it needs physiologically and emotionally. It’s meditative. It’s cathartic. It’s incredibly healthy.

When outside demands compete with Me for top priority…
When I disappeared over the summer it was all about fun – enjoying the warm summer days with family and friends. I started eating dairy (and sugar) again after abstaining for months because I found this incredibly addictive frozen custard place in a park that became my go-to playdate spot. I also began drinking way too much coffee. I had every intention to get back on the blog, and back on track after summer ended, but then September hit – and whoa, I was not expecting any of what came. My client load picked up exponentially, I began working on a new venture, and Miss L started kindergarten (which is only 3 hrs/day here). That on top of the usual “keep the house standing and keep the family alive” stuff. All of these things sort of merged to form this giant mass of unexpected workload and my old habits kicked in: tunnel vision, no sleep, poor eating, and stretching myself too thin.

Competing worlds. Staying zen in a crazy world?
Many times on this blog, I professed my sheer thankfulness that I was in a position to take time away from the full-time world of work. I absolutely know that if I hadn’t done that, I never would have gone on this journey I’ve been on the last year and a half. That being said, I thought I had learned the tools I could take with me back out there. As demands picked up, “no worries, I got this”, I thought to myself. Turns out, I don’t got this. Or, it hasn’t come quite as easily as I thought. I have only known one way to be succesful and it involves putting myself on the back burner. All of my energy gets focused on my work and I demand nothing less than perfection from myself – in all 50 things I’ve taken on. It took a good month to realize what had happened; I just slipped right back into to my old modus operandus and before I knew it, I wasn’t feeling great – exhausted, stressed out, physical ailments returning, and the total opposite of centered. I was like a stranger to myself just running on automatic. (And for the first time in over year, I began craving carbs. And not “oh, that pizza that’s in face right now looks yummy and wish I could have some” craving, but “carbs are nowhere in sight and I am physically craving bread” type craving. This leads me to believe there is something to sleep deprivation and carb-cravings. There is some physiological mechanism going on there. I will look for the science in this.) And here’s the thing — this is how I lived my life before. I think it’s how most of us do. But after the utterly life-altering realizations I’ve experienced in the last year-ish, how could I go back?! This time I could see there was something wrong with functioning like this. Awareness is the first step, they say. So that’s good. At least I see it now.

Steps I’ve taken to get my groov…um, zen back.
So the first thing I did was drop a couple of non-essential tasks. Oh, everything always feels essential, doesn’t it? Ain’t it funny how that works? But things that just were not top priority had to go and that has helped. Second, I’m not allowing what is on my plate to be all-consuming; I’m trying to set better boundaries. No, I don’t have to answer a client’s text at midnight. Yeah, sometimes I still do-but sometimes I let it wait. Third, I am trying to prioritize my needs. Yet, to be honest, trying to step back and put myself first kind of feels like failure, like I’m dropping the ball, like I’m not trying my hardest. I”m still battling that compulsion to do it all, take it all on, say “I got this” to it all. It’s over 30 years of training that I’m trying to undo here so I think it may take some time…

What’s next?
I have come to the realization that I’m never going to have last year’s mellow, chill year back – not working much, slow, lazy weekday mornings where everyday felt like the weekend, my cutie-pie in a laid-back loving preschool that started at noon and felt like family, spending our days on playdates or fun excursions during quiet hours when most kids were at school, traveling during the school year, and just generally enjoying a slower-paced lifestyle. But I can and I must find a way to take on the projects I’ve chosen and the other demands that have come. I mean, I sought most of them out. That ambitious girl is still there, but I’ve just got to learn to do it in a healthy way. That means boundaries, and that means saying no. I’m not a people-pleaser and I can say “no” in that sense. I know many folks for whom that is the issue but for me the baggage is feeling like a failure, feeling weak if I admit to myself that it’s too much for me to do. As I write those words, I still find the notion hard to even utter…

But for the last few weeks, I began making myself a priority again. I am again taking the time to start the day with my smoothie and lemon water, decadent salads composed with great care and creativity, and take the time to make yummy and creative dinners. I’ve prioritized gym time as well – and oh, is movement also so key! Since I’ve taken these very small steps, my energy went through the roof and I immediately began feeling much more centered.

I just returned from a weeklong, fun trip where I ate very well, but did indulge in some (okay, many) cocktails because, well, hey, I’m all about 80/20 sometimes. And not every bar had triple distilled organic liquior. I’m working on my post-fun recovery by drinking a lot of lemon water to balance my pH and hydrate, loading on up nutrient-packed smoothies to feed my cells, and hitting the gym and steam room to detoxify.

As for today, I just got back from the market, loaded up on fruits, veggies and grassfed protein – and the fixings for my Thanksgiving contribution at our family dinner – which will be all organic, paleo, dairy-free and nutrient packed. The challenge: it’s gotta meet my parameters but be yummy enough for everyone to enjoy. And I want to pull a covert “Oh, is that good? Guess what it doesn’t have in it!” sneak attack after everyone’s had a few bites! 😉 Can I do it? Oh, hell yeah. Challenge, accepted. DetoxMama is back.