You guys, I am feeling so damn inspired lately! Since I’ve last written, I’ve done so many productive and cool things, and my self-esteem is shooting through the roof compared to what it was a month or two ago. If any of you are feeling blue or low or a little bit like you’ve gotten away from the person you want to be, I highly recommend that you recenter and sit down and think about who it is that you want to be. What kind of life do you want to live? Is it creative? Is it active? Is it intellectual? Is it all three? Is it more? What steps can you take to get you there?
I know very well that becoming a better version of yourself isn’t always the easiest thing in the world. We all have limitations, and we’re probably not going to be rock stars or extreme adventurers or successful novelists. BUT, we can learn to play a new instrument or learn a new language or run races. We can make new friends, grow a following on Instagram, learn to rock climb and take grand adventures. We can find happiness and, for the most part, we are limitless in what we can learn and accomplish. The catch is, we have to do this ourselves. No one else is going to do this work for us. No one is going to walk up to us and say “hey you, you look like a person who wants to be an amazing cook. Let me teach you everything you need to know.” No, you have to decide you not only want to be an amazing cook, but you will be and you will take steps x, y and z and dedicate your time and energy to getting there.
So, that is what I’ve been working on the past few months, and especially over the last couple of weeks, it has become apparent to me that I can really, truly get there. I just have to keep pushing and trying and staying dedicated to who I want to be. I am doing my best to live the life that I want, and I suddenly feel like I have been reconnected with an old friend. The best part is, that old friend is me! The happy version of me. The version of me that knows what I want and how to get it. The version of me who tries new things and wastes no time and has a whole lot of energy because I’m living a healthy, full existence that I have created of my own free will.
I loved Rich. But now that I have been out of the relationship for a few months, hardcore focusing on myself and trying to figure out what makes me happy, I can’t help but think of all the hours spent on doing things I cared nothing about, done to make him happy. I can’t help feeling like they were wasted. I know that when we’re in relationships, or even friendships, and we care about people a great deal, it’s normal to make sacrifices. And I know that he did the same for me. He hates exercise, yet he’d *occasionally* join me for a hike, or spend the day at a park with me. I would *frequently* trek over to his house for a day or a weekend, and spend the time watching TV, movies and playing board games with him and his friends until the wee hours of the night. Don’t get me wrong, these are things that I enjoy, but in small doses. I love to be active, social and productive. And in that relationship, the time spent doing what he enjoyed instead of what I enjoyed (because often it was the only way he’d spend time with me) was definitely unequal. I don’t want to sit here and lament over the past, but I think it’s important to reflect on mistakes made so that I can do better in the future. When Rich broke up with me, he said he thought we weren’t a good long term match. And with some space, I completely agree with him. I need someone who loves the outdoors and loves being active. A couch potato, no matter how sweet, goofy and attractive, is never going to make me happy. I need a hiker, camper, traveler, adventurer. And I think that was an extremely valuable lesson for me to learn. Not to mention, the freedom to spend pretty much all of my free time working on myself is nothing short of amazing!
So, let me tell you about the amazing 2016 I’ve been having! First of all, I have stuck with the yoga thus far, and though I wasn’t sure at first if it was something for me, I have plans to continue on with it. My two week trial period at the yoga studio near my house has ended, and I’m planning to join this weekend for real. It’s going to be an expensive hobby, but I have found that when I leave right after work, and I’m feeling stressed and a bit anxious with a very sore back, I go to yoga and get through the hour and fifteen minutes and find that my body has responded in a big way. A lot of the tension that I take into the studio is gone when I leave. I don’t always want to be there. Sometimes, I get frustrated that I can’t do all the poses, or that they seem so easy for other people whereas they’re uncomfortable for me, and sometimes I’m just plain exhausted and would rather go home. But when I leave, feeling refreshed, slightly energized and less stressed, I know that the work I put in was worth it. As my friend recently said, there is no better investment than in yourself. Yes, it is expensive and I feel a bit guilty spending the money on it, but then I think about the agony I went through with my back injury, and if yoga makes me feel even somewhat better at the end of the day, it’s totally worth the money. Not to mention, I am a person whose mind races, races, races with ideas constantly. Yoga does not stop this racing, but it does temporarily slow it down, so that’s a huge added bonus. I’m trying my best to be present in my life, rather than constant reflection on the future and past, and yoga helps. I have now tried yin, power, restorative and vinyasa (dharma), and so far, I am loving the vinyasa. I probably would not have liked yoga when I was younger. It’s slower paced than all the activities that I was used to – running, Insanity, boot camp, cardio kickboxing. Those were great ways to get out energy, but now that my body can’t tolerate them, I find that yoga does give me a strong workout, despite its slower place and lower intensity. I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a way to relieve stress and especially for those suffering from back pain.
An on again off again dream of mine since I was a teenager has been to learn to rock climb. I spent a summer (well, technically a winter) in New Zealand when I was in high school, and three weeks of my trip involved staying at an outdoor pursuits center with a bunch of other American and Canadian students, led by Kiwi guides. It was absolutely amazing. We went backpacking through the forest and the mountains (Lord of the Rings country), kayaking, bungie jumping and team building, and there, I got a tiny bit of experience rock climbing. Wanderlust bit me hard and I got a taste for adventure, and it has never left me. Rock climbing and mountaineering have always been in the back of my mind, but for some reason, I have never pursued them. So, in this new year of finding happiness, I decided it is time to learn. I took a class on basic rock climbing skills at a rock climbing gym last weekend with a couple of friends, and I learned the basic knots to use while climbing, how to belay safely and got to spend a couple of hours climbing and belaying with my friends. It was such a rush! My hands got so sweaty on the rock climbing wall because I was so nervous up there! But the beauty of a rock climbing wall is that if you slip or fall, nothing happens! Your buddy suspends you in the air until you get your footing!
I went back today to take my belay test so I can belay someone unsupervised, and I did a bit more climbing. I was feeling shy without a buddy there, but a (very cute) dad who was there with his little girls offered to belay for me during a couple of climbs, and I spent a bit of time on the bouldering wall, which you do not need a rope or buddy for because it’s much closer to the ground. I will tell you, I had a great time, but my forearms and shoulders are quite sore! I am definitely going to need to build up some strength in order to get better. I chatted with one of the workers at the gym after I was done, and he said it’s best to consistently do it when you’re new in order to build up that strength, because that will be what holds you back. First it’s your forearms, then your biceps, then your shoulders, then your chest. You can learn the technical aspects as you go along, but strength is really what you need to work on first and foremost. So I will try and heed his advice! I’m heading back to the gym on Sunday to do some climbing with my friend Beth, and have found out that I have a couple other friends who climb, so hopefully will be able to meet them occasionally as well. Otherwise, I will awkwardly climb with strangers and hopefully get more confident in my abilities and feel less self-conscious as I go along!
Another idea I’ve had for this grander version of myself is that I want to be able to use my bike for transportation. Maybe not every day, but frequently. I used to ride my bike to work during the summers in college when I was a lifeguard, and it’s something I very much enjoyed. It saves you money, is environmentally friendly, and gives you an excuse to do more exercise and get more fresh air! I’ve wanted to get back to it, but I’ve had a couple of things holding me back. Number one, I am afraid to bike in traffic. Number two, biking is SO HARD on your legs! It makes me so tired! I figure, the only solution to both of these is to go out and do it! So yesterday, I rode my bike to work for the first time! It was freezing, but gorgeous and sunny, and I rode along the National Mall for the majority of the trip. Though I was sweaty and tired when I got there, I made it in one piece and it didn’t take me any longer than it does when I take the metro! I got to ride past national monuments and even a duck pond. Again, I realized what a cool place I live and how I don’t always appreciate it. I’m hoping (if it’s not too cold) that I can start riding to work perhaps once a week and to run errands or ride to yoga or the swimming pool a bit more often than that. If anyone has any biking tips, please do let me know!
The last thing I want to mention is that nutritionally, I have also been a rock star lately. I have so far stuck to Dry and Dessertless January (it’s way less depressing than it sounds – I swear!). Though I certainly miss desserts (I had to turn down lemon bars yesterday, not an easy thing to do when you’re me!), I have been feeling so good mentally and physically that feeling this way has made it worth it. I’ve always been eating a ton of fruits and veggies, whole grains and vegetarian proteins like raw almonds, tofu and beans. I have been whipping up veggie stir fries, healthy oatmeal with fruit, almonds and raw honey (harvested by my awesome parents!) and tried a delicious recipe for butternut squash chili that a former coworker sent me. I’ve been so good about meal planning, and it has made a HUGE difference in how I feel. Life is so good.
I know this has been one of my longer posts, but I wanted to share all my amazing progress. I will have to tell you about my improv class (which I am loving!) and about a really cool book I’m reading next time, as I have run out of writing steam for the time being. I hope you are all having equally productive and positive years so far, and that you’ll share the ways you are working to improve your lives!
Happy Friday, everyone!