I found a place that works for me.

I am on the train on my way back home after a week or so in NYC for my job. I’ve been in my current job for 6 months and I still love it. It fulfills all of the things I had been looking for – professional development, strong management, room for growth, fair compensation and great benefits – the list could go on.

I do not take this for granted. I am grateful, although I know I worked hard to get here. I am happy to have found a place that works well for me. Hooray!

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Freedom

I had a realization yesterday while walking from my office parking lot into the building. I was wearing a dress and tights but no spanx-like product underneath my dress. For those of you who don’t know what a spanx-like product is, it is basically the modern version of a girdle. You know what I mean: those spandex bike shorts in nude or black that we’re encouraged to wear under pants, skirts, and dresses to smooth out our lumps, bumps, bits, and pieces. I can’t remember when I started wearing them, but I definitely know, as I’ve grown up in a variety of shapes, I’ve owned them in size M, L, XL, and 2XL.

I last wore my undergarment a few weeks ago. I had on a dress with control top tights and a pair of bike shorts over my tights. Needless to say, I was sucked in. When I got home at the end of the day, I took off my layers and my stomach was killing me. I never thought about what I was doing to my body – squishing my outer layers into a tiny garment while likely squishing some internal organs as well. Ouch!

I was so relieved when I freed my body.

So, when yesterday came about, I must have been subtly channeling that pain I recently felt and I didn’t even attempt to put on my bike shorts – just a pair of cozy black tights to keep my legs warm on a wintry day.

And you know what happened? Nothing. The sky didn’t fall. The oceans didn’t overflow. The volcanoes stayed silent. It was not a big deal to skip the bike shorts. Actually, the results were likely positive: no pain and I never once thought that my stomach is protruding more than I’d like. The reality is that I am a women with curves, and a pair of bike shorts aren’t going to mask that.

I know I will return to them in the summer as they make wearing a summer dress more comfortable, but I will not be looking at them as a way to suck in my body anymore.

Freedom.

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#2018

woman-girl-freedom-happy-39853.jpegI haven’t written in ages. Here’s the life update in hashtags:

  1. I have a new job that I really, really like! #enoughsaid
  2. I turned 43 years old a few weeks ago. #yikes
  3. It’s now 2018. My resolution: drink more H20. #snazzynewwaterbottle
  4. I am still sans boyfriend, but I don’t really care very much because my life is pretty fulfilling. #singlesassy
  5. I have a fantastic vacation on the books for December 2018 which includes a trip to Spain, Portugal, and the Canary Islands. #singlescruise
  6. I finally was diagnosed with sleep apnea and I am working on getting used to a CPAP. When I use it, I feel way more rested so I am incredibly motivated to make that happen. #sleepisgood
  7. I’ve started to care less about what other people think of me. In the words of Alec Baldwin impersonating Donald Trump on SNL: #huuuuuggggge
  8. I’ve taken significant social media breaks. #cathartic
  9. I am not currently living paycheck-to-paycheck. I am saving money. #incrediblemilestone
  10. I really need to visit Rome again. #romeishome

NO FOMO

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I went “social media free” for the past 5 days in order to improve my social life. Yep. Despite the term “social media,” I find that an overabundant use of social media can feel very isolating. You have “Facebook envy” – otherwise known as FOMO.

So, how did my experiment go? Amazing.

On Thursday, I had lunch with two of my besties. I didn’t need to take out my phone because there was no social media checking. I was off from work so I didn’t need to check email. My friend took a photo and asked if it was ok if she posted it, despite my social media break. I told her it was fine, but I wouldn’t see it or comment on it. She apparently posted it because a few days later, my mom said that she saw I had lunch with my two friends. She was not on a Facebook break, apparently.

After lunch, I went to Ikea to purchase a coffee table. No checking-in, no photos of the abundant candy. I drove home and relaxed, oblivious to anything superfluous from my 4,200 or so friends, followers, or contacts on social media.

On Friday, I slept and relaxed.

On Saturday, I went to the eye doctor and didn’t worry when she said she had to dilate my eyes. “No worries,” I thought. I don’t have any tweets, posts, or pokes to read anyhow.

I woke up early on Sunday – well, early for me – and headed to apple picking with my friend and her 5-year old son. We took silly pictures on her camera. I didn’t focus on photos too much, but rather, just enjoyed the moment. We went to Wegman’s and had lunch. I went home afterwards and watched some Hulu. I was pooped from a productive morning of apple picking, socializing, and not sweating the small stuff.

I hadn’t thought about what I was missing out on all weekend because all I knew was what I was involved in in my own world. It was lovely and had just enough in it to make me feel like I was productive, but also enough “veg” time too.

I spoke with my mom and she said the only thing I missed on social media was that my cousin got engaged. I told her I’d congratulate him on Monday, when I’d check my Facebook again.

I checked it today, wished my cousin a big “mazel” and decided not to review my 61 missed notifications.

It was a fun experiment which I plan to do again very soon.

The Gifts of Imperfection

A few hours ago, about 15 miles away, author and psychologist Brene Brown took the stage at a conference and spoke, likely, about her newest book and research. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience her lecture in person, but there are plenty of her past interviews and talks to listen to online.

brownI can’t remember, but I feel like I’ve probably written about brown in the past. I first learned about her if you jobs ago when we read the book “Daring Greatly,” which focuses on vulnerability. It particularly resonated with me because she discusses that when we allow ourselves to become vulnerable, we can help eliminate the shame we feel about our imperfections.

I recently purchased Brown’s book “The Gifts of Imperfection” to help me continue on the path to “knock down” and remove the power of my so-called perfectionism. You see, perfectionists like myself aim to be good at everything – or, at least on the surface – so that we don’t have to deal with the shame or hurt feelings as a result of making a mistake or being imperfect.

My past history with an eating disorder clearly matches up with a perfectionist personality. When I didn’t want to feel, I would attempt to numb my pain with food. Well, guess what, that didn’t work!

Through years of hard work, I’ve been able to tackle my perfectionism and exist with my feelings – good or bad. But, let me tell you, it is hard!

I listened to Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast where she interviewed Brown. Listen. Trust me, it’ll be 30 minutes well spent. And there is a part two!

Brown mentioned something that has been resonating with me all day. She said that we don’t pair “joy” with “gratitude” enough. We need to take the time to relish the good things that happen every day, whether it is the wind on our face as we open our sunroof and windows on a beautiful day….or the company of a good friend over an unexpected lunch date….or a morning with little traffic on the way to work.

I can tell that I’m conquering my perfectionism. I made a silly mistake today at work – no big deal and typical for someone still learning their job after only being there for 3-weeks. I am not obsessing over it the way I would have in the past. I acknowledged it with an “oy vey!” and moved on (besides writing about it here!). In the past it would have kept me from sleeping at night – this silly little thing that means nothing in the scheme of life. But tonight, I will not let it fester. I will work hard to let it go!

I will continue to look for things in Brown’s writing and research that resonate. I look forward to discovering more of her wisdom and using it to grow as a person.

Now, go out and dare greatly!

The Importance of Good Sleep

cea1e377395511529d66103cf19c6183Every have one of those good night’s sleep where you wake up so refreshed and energized? I know. Seems to good to be true, right? I remember having one of those nights and just feeling so incredibly content the next day.

Sadly, for me, it has been a very long time.

I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in several years now. I don’t always remember waking up at night, but I can guarantee you that, every morning, no matter what time I went to sleep the night before, I wake up exhausted. For years I suppressed this and chalked it up to stress, but more recently, I’ve realized it is like due to sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea, according to WebMD, ” is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep….sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain– and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen.”

Woah! You wake up 100 or more times during the night? Well, no wonder I feel exhausted when I wake up in the morning! And you stop breathing? Double woah. That’s scary. I remember when I went on a cruise and was matched with a roommate as part of a “singles” trip, she commented, “It’s so cute. You stop breathing during the night!” I responded, “That’s not cute – that’s sleep apnea!”

Imagine the crap I’ve been doing to my brain all of this time. And, other side effects include: high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, diabetes, depression, and headaches. That’s some scary, serious stuff.

I’ve done an “at home” sleep study and the results came up inconclusive. What is the reason I’ve held off doing the “in hospital” study? One reason: money. It is going to cost me between $2,000-$3,000 after insurance kicks in. For those of us who have been on a fixed budget, that’s daunting. But, I’ve spoken with the sleep center and I can go on a payment plan.

I realize now that this is something I must do. I can’t go on walking around like a zombie all of the time. I seriously never feel rested. For years. It’s terrible.

I can’t wait to write about this in the near future and comment on how I don’t know what I did before I got a CPAP, which is the machine that delivers oxygen to you while you sleep.

Sweet dreams, dear readers!

 

 

 

Self Worth

df12f790163687ca82751dc370d9baafSelf worth. What does that mean? It’s not self esteem, but rather, it is more about feeling worthy.

I’ll admit it. There are days that I can feel little worth. I come home from work, defeated, because I waited all day for a “thank you” or a”good job” or a smile.

And I got nothing.

According to an article on PsychAlive,  studies now show that basing one’s self-worth on external factors is actually harmful to one’s mental health.

Jennifer Crocker, PhD, a psychologist at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research,  did a study of 600 college students during their Freshman year. Their self esteem was pretty high, in general. Go frosh!

When students were asked about what they base their self-worth on, more than 80 percent said academic competence, 77 percent said their family’s support, 66 percent said doing better than others, and 65 percent–70 percent of which were women–said their appearance.

Yikes. Lots of external factors. The people who focused more on external praise had….more stress, anger…..alcohol and drug use, as well as more symptoms of eating disorders. Ding. Ding. Ding. Yep. Yep. That’s me.

21b04491a57abbd3937c074608303830But I’m not a college freshman. I’m a 42-year-old woman who is still working on conquering perfectionism and finding her self worthiness from external sources.

So how what to do? Dr. Lisa Firestone called it our “inner critic.” How does one quash the inner critic and just embrace ourselves as we are?

One of the things that I’ve been doing is to focus on self care and less on my people pleasing. It’s hard, especially for those people who are use to me puckering up to them all of these years. But I have to be honest. My true friends…the people that really care about me….are encouraging me to do this. They aren’t challenging me looking out for myself. They’re actually supporting it.

Baby steps.