200 Miracle Mornings!

200MiracleMornings

(Photo from my hotel room in San Diego on July 13, 2015)

Sooo…it’s been a while since I posted a TMM update. Eighty days, to be exact. I fully intended to post on Day 150, but a) it was my birthday and 2) it was the last day of our family vacation in the Ozarks. By the time I got home, caught up on laundry and emails, and emerged from a backlog of writing for clients, it was almost time for the Day 180 update.

But on Day 180, I was preparing for Comic Con and just didn’t get an update in amid everything else.

But now, it’s Day 200! Not a 30-day milestone, but a big one nonetheless! And an excuse to update now rather than waiting another 10 days.

As a reminder, on January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 200 days in a row of following that routine.

200 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

200 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

200 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

200 days of starting my day with 15-30 minutes of yoga.

200 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

200 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.

Results

The past 80 days have been something of a roller coaster. Most significantly, I hit my first real bout of depression since beginning my Miracle Mornings. It lasted about a month and was on the gray end of the spectrum (I use a gray-to-black scale to non-scientifically measure my depression). Not the worst I’ve suffered by far, but still not fun. Fortunately I have a lot of tools in my toolbox, so once I figured out what was going on, it took about a week to pull out of it. My Miracle Morning routine was integral to not only beating this round of depression, but to keeping it on the milder end of the spectrum. Some days I had to fight to get through the whole routine. Some days it took hours. But I did it and felt better for having done so.

This summer suddenly exploded into Summer of the Traveling Mel with two trips down and another in a couple of weeks (see below). Through planning, adaptation, and determination, I managed to stick with my Miracle Morning routine even while I was away from home. Bringing the routine, and accompanying mindfulness, with me made both trips even better, IMO.

Work

  • Writing, writing, writing! May and June were particularly hectic as I was writing for 7 different clients with competing deadlines. But you know what? While there were a couple of times when my head was spinning from trying to focus on so many different projects, I never felt anxious or even all that stressed. Writer’s block? Absolutely. Anxiety attacks? Nope. Progress!
  • I accepted the editorship of a new, digital magazine. It’s been quite a learning experience, but quite interesting as well. We’re wrapping up my first issue and anticipating a publication date in the next week or two, at which point I’ll be bragging about it like I just gave birth.
  • I’ve started a bootcamp on writing Case Studies, one of the many helpful bootcamps offered by The Freelance Writers Den. Case Studies are very similar to what I write for various trade magazines, and they pay really well, so I’m looking to branch out into that market.
  • I negotiated my way from a possible 1 or 2 article, not-so-well-paying magazine gig to a guaranteed 3-article gig at double the rate originally offered. On top of that, the assignments were super fun!
  • A success story about the above negotiations that I posted in The Freelance Writers Den forum lead to an invitation for a paid guest blog post. Win!

Personal

  • At the end of May/beginning of June, almost the entire family loaded up and drove over to Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks. It ended up being 5 adults and 12 children, and we had a blast! We’re already planning our next trip and hoping to make this a twice-annual family vacation.
  • In July, I went to Comic Con in San Diego for the eighth time. It’s turned into Geek Summer Camp for me at this point. Sure, I still “work” by interviewing TV talent and attending panels, but it’s become more about hanging out with my friends who I pretty much only see once a year. I think this was my best trip ever, thanks in large part to my mental state. Being present and open and mindful made such a difference in how I experienced everything. I don’t think I quit smiling the whole week!
  • I’ve been working on some deeper, tougher issues with my therapist and with what I read/speak/meditate on during my TMM. Specifically, conflict and relationships (sometimes conflict in relationships, but not always). I’ve been surprised by some of what has been accomplished already.
  • I’ve actually set up a budget and am actively striving to improve my financial health.

Health

  • Nothing major to report here. I haven’t been physically ill. I started going back to the gym and incorporating more physical activity into my days (even though exercise is hugely helpful during depression, it’s one of the first things I let slide).

Books I read: A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson; a book about forgiveness that my priest loaned me, and whose title I cannot remember; The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey; Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves (currently reading; very helpful)

The Next 50 Days

I’ll be traveling again in a couple of weeks, finding a quiet corner in the hotel fitness room to practice yoga and go through my whole routine. Having a portable, adaptable routine is such a blessing for someone who thrives on structure even as they thirst for new experiences. I’ll also be continuing to work on the aforementioned conflict and relationship areas of my life, and growing my writing clientele. Onward!

Books I’ll be reading: I feel like I need a refresher, so I plan to read The Miracle Morning again. After that, probably Listful Thinking by Paula Rizzo.

See you on Day 250!

How Lucky Am I?!?

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Being an aunt is pretty much my favorite thing ever. Look at these 12 silly faces (well, 13 if you count mine). How lucky am I?!?

Photo by Katelyn VonFeldt Photography

My Miracle Morning Tools: Yoga with Adriene

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One of the best parts of the Miracle Morning routine is that as you get going, you fill your toolbox with the tools that will help you build the life you want. As part of chronicling my Miracle Mornings, I thought I’d start sharing some of the tools I use daily.

From the start I knew that I wanted the Exercise segment of my routine to be yoga. After a traumatic neck/shoulder injury in 2007, it was yoga and my chiropractor who helped me recover. I practiced yoga at least once week for a few years before falling out of the habit, primarily because the classes were offered at awkward times for my schedule. After another traumatic injury in 2012, affecting the entire right side of my body, I knew I needed to get back to regular yoga practice. But how? The classes I’d attended previously were still awkwardly scheduled, and just the effort of getting started was daunting.

When I decided to begin The Miracle Morning, I started looking for online yoga classes. They needed to be of the “yoga flow” variety, focusing more on gentle stretching than intense muscle-building. I also wanted a yogi who was, how do I say this…grounded. Connecting with the breath and calming the mind is integral to my yoga practice, but crystals and messages from guardian angels, not so much.

Enter Adriene Mishler and her You Tube channel, Yoga with Adriene!

Adriene is a young Austinite with a gentle teaching style and a silly sense of humor. She strikes the right balance of nurturing, teaching, and being excited about doing something she loves. Her videos are free, and there are dozens! Here are my favorites:

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Yoga for Beginners

This 20-minute sequence is a great introduction (or reintroduction) to yoga. I followed this routine for the first couple of weeks to get a feel for Adriene’s teaching style.

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Gentle Morning Yoga

Another 20-minute sequence, I now practice this 4 or 5 mornings out of the week. It’s a full-body routine with an amazing variation on Cat/Cow that is soooo nice for the hips/lower back.

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Yoga for Digestion

Digestive issues have plagued me for most of my life, and this practice gets me back on track. I try to do it at least once per week, twice if needed. Warning: don’t do this one more than two days in a row; it really gets things moving!

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Gentle Yummy Yoga (aka Hip Hip Hooray!)

Part of Adriene’s 30 Days of Yoga series from January, this practice targets the hips and lower back, two chronic problem areas for me. I like all of the poses, but the Reclining Pigeon is pure gold. This is my go-to practice for days when I’m going to be sitting a lot, like when I’m traveling or on deadline.

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Yoga for When You Are Sore

Adriene has several videos for specific issues; this one is primarily for runners, but it has helped me with inner-thigh muscle pain that popped up recently. It’s also one of the few routines I do that includes balancing on one leg. Still working on that!

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Yoga for Cramps and PMS

Ladies, trust me on this one.

This is just the tip of the Yoga with Adriene iceberg. If you’re at all interested in limbering up your body, in lubricating your joints, in building muscle, in learning to be present in your own body, then you need this tool in your toolbox!

I Heart Pretty Things: On the Refrigerator

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Lately I’ve been on a mission to cultivate a home full of beauty, grace, whimsy, peace, and comfort. My house is not without its challenges – teeny, tiny kitchen with very little storage, weird nook instead of a dining room, no yard of my own – but it’s where I am now and rather than wait until I buy something else, I’m making an effort to create the type of home I want here. Bloom where you’re planted and all that. I even declare an affirmation about my home every day:

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(follow my Pinterest board for other affirmations)

As part of my mission, I’ve begun allowing myself to buy pretty things for the house. Usually they’re practical items that are also beautiful (I don’t have a lot of room for items that aren’t also useful), and I’m taking tremendous pleasure in adding bits of beauty around the house.

I went on a shopping trip with my two oldest nieces recently, and as we were in the checkout line at TJ Maxx, Elizabeth (Niece #2) found a set of lovely magnets with vintage images of birds, flowers, and butterflies. She hinted strongly that she’d like to have them at her house, but, alas, she was doomed to get clothes, and the magnets came home with me instead.

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Aren’t they charming? They make me happy every time I pass by the ‘fridge.

Speaking of things that make me happy, here’s what else is on the upper part of my ‘fridge, in addition to the daily/weekly chore schedule:

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Behold, my Official Bragging Rights for completing a “blind folded opstical course” last summer. That was an activity I set up on Sissy Night, and when the kids asked what they’d win for doing it, I said “bragging rights”. Elizabeth promptly set about creating these certificates for each person, and I proudly display my accomplishment.

Also, my favorite Foxtrot cartoon, anchored with a Will Turner magnet. It’s had pride of place since December 2003. Oh, LOTR, those were the days.

More pretty features coming soon!

120 Miracle Mornings

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Shoot, another month without an interim update! I even have a list of topics to write about for this blog. Maybe I need to schedule a block of time to write ’em, huh?

As a reminder, on January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 120 days in a row of following the routine.

120 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

120 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

120 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

120 days of starting my day with 15-30 minutes of yoga.

120 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

120 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.

Results

SPOILER: THIS IS A LONG ENTRY!

This has been a tumultuous 30 days. Personal growth is a process, obviously, but I wasn’t prepared for how that growth would be challenged by internal and external forces. The clearer I get about who I am, the stronger I feel mentally and emotionally, the bigger the issues I face.

Of major impact this month has been starting Marianne Williamson’s book A Course in Weight Loss. I’ve joked about “eating my feelings” in the past, but as with most jokes, it’s rooted in truth. And not a pretty truth. The book comes with assignments, none of which I’ve done yet. I know, I know, I’m doing it wrong. The truth is, the first couple of assignments require a lot of vulnerability, and when I started reading the book, I was around a lot of people and didn’t have time to be that open emotionally. Then I got sick and just doing the reading was as much as I could handle. Rather than wait and start over, I chose to continue reading, then go back and do the assignments. Even without engaging in the hands-on aspect, I’m sensing a mental shift in my attitudes toward food and how I nourish my body.

I’ve also had several occasions to gain deeper understanding of other people in my life this month. Some of it has been difficult but cathartic and ultimately relationship-building. Some of it has not. Currently I’m grappling with questions about what comes next. As a person who has shied away from confrontation most of her life, this new phase of tackling big issues and speaking up about things is well outside of my comfort zone.

The big picture is starting to emerge, however. This month I really began to see how interconnected our physical, mental, and emotional selves are. Peeling back the layers to find the roots of thoughts and actions and feelings has been eye-opening. Realizing how something that happened years ago still impacts my choices today – it’s requiring a lot of work on my part to learn how to recognize, acknowledge, and let go of unhealthy thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Sounding a little “woo woo”? I feel ya. I can also say, without equivocation, that I am a better person than I was 120 days ago. And I still have a lot left to do.

Work

  • Writing assignments have been coming in steadily over the past month, which is great because money. I have been experiencing a lot of “hurry up and wait”, however, testing my patience and focus. I’m trying a couple of new techniques to help me get past my inclination to be passive and wait on other people to do their part; that is not the path to success.
  • A friend and I started a boutique PR company a few months ago, and after achieving some nice results for our first client, we’re working on landing some new accounts.

Personal

  • The living room renovation project is finally finished! You may recall that was a major disruption last time, one I did not handle well. I am enjoying the newly finished space while also remembering how it felt to not be in control. It would be easy to say, “it was worth the disruption and stress,” but the reality is that I could have handled the whole process so much better, and I want to learn from that. (See Item 1 under “Work”)
  • I finished spring cleaning in the spare room, one of the two biggest spaces in need of attention. It’s been decluttered, reorganized, deep cleaned, and freshened up, and it feels so much nicer.
  • I planted flowers! And I bought a geranium to hang on my front porch and a fern to sit in my living room (see photo above)! And all of them are still alive!

Health

  • It’s now been more than 100 days since I’ve had a bout of either depression or anxiety. There are still some down days, I don’t want to act like it’s all rainbows and kittens over here, but I am in a generally positive frame of mind and coping with stressors and sadness and life in healthier ways. I’ve been taking my supplements pretty regularly and am still seeing my therapist every two weeks.
  • I came down with a cold a couple of weeks ago, and just as that was ending, got hit with a stomach bug. As a result, I did not come close to hitting my workout goals for the month and had a week of very poor eating.
  • Thanks in part to last week’s stomach bug, I’m at my lowest weight in years. 😉

Books I read: The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell (SO helpful) and A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson (currently reading; getting a lot out of it)

The Next 30 Days

My family (6 adults + 12 children) is going on vacation together at the end of May. Five days of togetherness. I may have some prayer requests as we get closer to departure. 😉

I might be off a bit with my math, but I think my birthday is on Day 150. It’s a big one, which was part of the incentive to start The Miracle Morning in the first place. Leading up to that day, I expect to be doing some even deeper introspection and visualization and work on creating the life I want.

Books I’ll be reading: Not sure yet; I may end up going through A Course in Weight Loss again.

See you on Day 150!

90 Miracle Mornings

(Photo to come. Time for Sissy Night!)

I really am going to write about something else eventually, I promise! For now, though, another update on what I’m doing in the morning and how it’s impacting my life.

As a reminder, on January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 90 days in a row of following the routine.

90 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

90 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

90 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

90 days of starting my day with 15-30 minutes of yoga.

90 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

90 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.

Results

These past few weeks have been a challenge. A renovation project at my house has taken much, much longer than I expected. My living room ceiling has needed repaired for years, thanks to water damage. Once the roof was replaced, we could move on to the ceiling project. That began March 7, and it still isn’t completely finished. I’m not going to lie: I am not a person who does well in a construction zone. Not being able to concentrate on my work, not being able to clean the house + having furniture displaced for weeks…it’s not a good look on me.

You know what saved me? Having my morning routine. There were many mornings when I delayed getting out of bed, but I did get up and went through the entire routine. There were mornings when I felt irritable and unable to focus until half or even two-thirds of the way through, but peace was waiting for me in the end.

While I don’t have a lot of other tangible successes to report this time around, I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment for making it to Day 90 despite the challenges of the past few weeks.

Work

  • A last minute assignment to create a six-page e-book, due in less than 24 hours, on a day when I was subbing at the high school all day, seemed impossible. But I turned it in on time and the client is talking about additional e-books (with more lead time!).
  • I got to cover two really fun stories for the newspaper over St. Patrick’s Day, both of which resulted in lots of favorable comments and personal thank yous from those involved.
  • The newspaper also gave me a fun spotlight series that I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks.
  • Filed my business taxes, and it was pretty painless.
  • Went to a networking event and not only did I exceed my goals for how many strangers I spoke with and how long I stayed (bet you couldn’t guess that I’m an introvert), but I got a hot lead for future freelancing work!

Personal

  • Filed my personal taxes, and I’m getting a nice refund. Like, enough to cover Comic Con. Whee!
  • Ordered some new dresses to spruce up my spring wardrobe.
  • My accountability buddy started his own Miracle Morning routine!
  • My oldest niece, Genevieve, is also working on a routine and has two of her sisters doing it, too!

Health

  • Despite struggling with discontent over the chaos, I never slipped into depression or anxiety. My therapist did bring me back to bi-weekly sessions, at least for now.
  • I’ve been experimenting with different yoga practices, targeting different parts of my body, and found some new practices that will become a regular part of my routine. (The abs and arms one, though. Oof.)
  • While the scale hasn’t moved much, my clothes continue to get looser and looser.

Books I read: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (about halfway through) and The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell (currently reading)

The Next 30 Days

Spring cleaning! I am so ready to declutter this house and get it all shined up! The messiest part of the ceiling project is done, so I can actually clean and not have dust/debris/etc. mess everything up again the next day. I’ve gone room by room and made a list of what needs done. Now I get to start checking things off the list.

I have several writing assignments lined up that I wasn’t able to concentrate on last month. Using some of the focusing techniques I’ve learned about, I anticipate a super productive month.

More birthday fun is on tap this month for niece Genevieve and nephew Xander who both have birthdays in April.

Books I’ll be reading: Still deciding, but I know at least one book will be related to physical health.

See you on Day 120!

65 Miracle Mornings

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I totally meant to write this update when I hit 60 Miracle Mornings, but on that day I was on vacation with very limited Internet access.

As a reminder, on January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 65 days in a row of following the routine.

65 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

65 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

65 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

65 days of starting my day with 15-20 minutes of yoga.

65 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

65 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.

Results

After 65 days, the internal changes I talked about last time are manifesting physically.

Work

  • The self-discipline and focus I’ve been practicing allowed me to file a record number of freelance assignments in February and invoice double what I earned in a month at my last 9-5 job.
  • A couple of business-related tasks that I’ve put off for ages (hello, taxes) are well on the way to completion.
  • I have a solid amount of work lined up for this month.
  • I finally had a breakthrough with a client project that has been confounding me for months.

Personal

  • Going on vacation with my BFF is something I’ve wanted to do for several years. Normally Liz and I only see each other at Comic Con, but she can’t come this year, so it seemed like a good time to make our BFF retreat happen. After talking about it and visualizing what we wanted, it wasn’t even a week before the whole trip fell into place. We were offered an amazing lodge by Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks – about midway between our two homes – for a very good rate. What a blessing.
  • I’ve had many instances where something I visualized happened within hours after I wrote it down (I’m trying to remember to go back and write “YES!” on visualizations that happen). It’s…a little freaky, yet empowering. Our minds truly are amazing.

Health

  • My mindset continues to be generally positive, anxiety is almost non-existent, and I haven’t had a depressive episode in more than a month.
  • Just yesterday, my therapist said that I’m doing well enough to go from meeting with him every two weeks to meeting with him every three weeks. How great is that?
  • The daily yoga has my joints feeling like someone took an oil can to my body, plus my posture has improved.
  • While the scale hasn’t moved much, my clothes are looser. In fact, I had to dig out a belt to avoid a wardrobe malfunction!
  • I gave up fast food for Lent! I’ve slipped up a couple of times, either due to poor planning or just forgetfulness (on vacation I ate a cookie at McDonald’s while we were using their wi-fi), but for someone who was in the habit of going through the drive-thru daily, this is a significant improvement.

The past month did present a few challenges to sticking with my routine, but I kept the streak alive even when I was sick and every day while I was on vacation. I’m so glad that I did; at this point, I can’t imagine starting my day without my routine.

Books I read: The One Thing by Gary Keller, Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott,  A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle (attempted, did not like)

The Next 30 Days

The time change is challenging me right now, but I know my body will adjust soon, so I’m not stressed about it. Going to bed earlier on a consistent basis is still an area in which I can improve. The “dead zone” between when I finish TMM routine and when I want to sit down at the computer and start working also needs continued tweaks.

I’ll be going through a tutorial/bootcamp to learn how to provide a different type of writing service and working on finding new clients as well. This is an opportunity to expand my client base and realllllllly increase my income potential, and it’s right in line with my writing skills and experience. Exciting!

It’s not all about work in the next month, though. I also have some fun plans to spend time with family and friends, including taking niece Eliana on a little trip for her birthday. She’s turning 3, and I’ve never taken her on a shopping fun day. This must be remedied!

Books I’ll be reading: Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill, The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, The Mindful Brain by Daniel J. Siegel (recommended by my therapist)

I’ll check in again on Day 90!

30 Miracle Mornings

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Photo credit: ndl642m

On January 5, I began The Miracle Morning routine, based on Hal Elrod’s inspiring book. Today marks 30 days in a row of following the routine.

30 days of starting my day between 5:30-6:30, even on most weekends.

30 days of starting my day with a period of meditation.

30 days of starting my day with affirmations spoken aloud.

30 days of starting my day of visualizing what I want to happen in my day and my life.

30 days of starting my day with 20 minutes of yoga.

30 days of starting my day by reading a few pages of personal development books.

30 days of starting my day by journaling about three things I’m grateful for that day.

Results

After 30 days, the results are mostly internal. My thoughts are generally positive. I handle stress more easily. I am calmer and happier overall. I went through a depression cycle in mid-January, but it only last a few days and was on the gray end of my scale (gray = milder, black = harsher).

I am taking better care of myself. In January, I hit my workout goal of 12 days of at least 30 minutes of cardio. I’m doing a better job of consistently taking my supplements. I’m eating breakfast regularly.

The discipline required to achieve this milestone is helping me feel confident that I can take control of other areas of my life as well. I feel inspired to continue to grow and achieve and enjoy my life as it is and as it is becoming.

Books I read: The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, Get It Done When You’re Depressed (read about half) by Julie Fast, Happier at Home (reread) by Gretchen Rubin, The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

The Next 30 Days

I still have improvements to make as I go along. For example, I need to get to bed earlier on a consistent basis to sustain getting up earlier. There’s also a “dead zone” between when I finish TMM routine and when I want to sit down at the computer and start working that trips me up – either I putter around not doing much or I try to read some more and fall asleep. Over the next 30 days, I will be more intentional about how I spend this time as I pursue non-work-related goals.

Books I’ll be reading: The One Thing by Gary Keller, The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

I’ll check in again on Day 60!

“Let It Go”

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Every day for the past week or so, I’ve awakened with the song “Let It Go” playing in my head. Yes, that “Let It Go”.

I don’t mind having that particular earworm; I love this song. But why was it stuck in my head morning after morning? I mentioned this to my bestie Liz a couple of days ago, as a sort of “isn’t that weird” anecdote. She came right back at me with this:

“Based on what you’ve been doing the last few weeks, I’m not surprised. It’s kind of your theme song right now.”

You know what? She’s right!

This was one of the best holiday seasons I can remember as an adult, partially because I made sure to take care of my mental and physical health, but also because I actively, intentionally chose to let some behaviors, thoughts and emotions go.

My therapist, Dr. J, has been working with me on recognizing what is within my control and what is not, particularly with regards to other people. We’ve also been working on avoiding “triangulation,” or being pulled into other people’s drama and conflicts.

Both of these concepts touch deeply rooted behaviors, thoughts, feelings and attitudes within me. I’m going against decades of well-meaning but ultimately detrimental habits. A couple of months ago, however, I had something of a breakthrough and chose to go into the holidays actively practicing NOT doing what came “naturally”.

I’m not gonna lie, sometimes it was tough. I’m so used to being the mediator, the go-to member of the group, the one who fills the gaps of others’ poor planning or poor follow-through. It’s always been easier, in the short term, to take over and do it myself.

But recently, I realized the long-term damage.

Dr. J has encouraged and challenged me to set boundaries and maintain them in all areas of my life. I still have work to do, but now I see why he has been so consistent with this message.

In my first session of 2015, I went in feeling light, buoyant, better than I’ve felt in years. The dark cloud and heavy weight that have been my constant companions, gone. As I shared this with Dr. J, along with the strategies I used during the holiday hubbub of November and December, I was almost giddy with the realization that I’d come through the season with relative ease and was feeling really good heading into what are generally two of my toughest months (winter + S.A.D. = tough).

As I said again how good I felt, Dr. J asked, “Do you know why you feel so much lighter?”

“Because I planned ahead,” I said confidently. “I had my reminders pop up in my calendar, took my supplements, used those strategies when I was around a lot of people…”

“It’s because you didn’t let other people’s drama drag you down,” he answered.

“…”

“When you accept other people’s negativity, when you allow them to drag you into problems that really have nothing to do with you, when you become involved in their unhappiness and conflict, you get stuck. You’re like Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby – other people’s ‘stuff’ is the Tar Baby, and you’re Brer Rabbit. You think you’re helping, but in reality, you’re getting stuck and sucked in and weighed down.”

“… Holy crap.”

“Exactly.”

As the new year has progressed, I’ve begun some new practices and habits focused on both my mental and physical health. I’ll post more about that another time, but part of what’s happening is a continuation of what I began before the holidays: I’ve decided to Let It Go.

A Note to Myself from December 2013

Dear Self,

How are you?

No, really, how are you?

Are you sleeping a lot? Are you withdrawing from people? Are you facing the holidays with dread? Are you trying to force enthusiasm for the season? Are there more gray days than usual? Are your thoughts starting to stray into black territory?

Guess what – you’re going to be OK.

If you aren’t already, start taking your supplements. It’s time to bulk up on those herbs and vitamins. You know it works; do it.

Turn off the TV and turn on music or listen to podcasts while you do something with your hands – scrap, jigsaw puzzle, clean, anything. Do it.

Get outside. Even if it’s freezing, get outside and in the sunshine for at least a few minutes every day. Go to the park, the lake, wherever. Do it.

Pull out your binder and start/continue planning for the next several weeks. Make lists, brainstorm, organize. Do it.

Stop eating junk food. Nourish your body. Do it.

Move. Go for a walk. Take a class at the gym. Pull up videos on You Tube. Do it.

Unfortunately, this is the beginning. It’s going to last another 3-4 months. But you’ve been here before, and you’ve made it through. You can do this.

Remember, depression is a liar.

XO,
Mel