burnout & boundaries – is anxiety the catalyst for self-care?

there are days when i wake up, and life feels, more than anything, incredibly uncertain..

i am slow moving, worn out from my recent sleep phenomena of waking up in the middle of the night with heart-racing anxiety, laying in bed for a couple of hours, and then eventually falling in and out of sleep for 2-3 hours..

i was texting a friend yesterday, commenting on how “off” i’ve felt recently, wondering what might be the cause.. laying awake around 4 this morning, it came to me.. i mean, it was smacking me right in the face — my fucking anxiety.

it’s funny the ways in which we can be so blind to the most obvious aspects of our experience.. it can be hard for me to reach a place of clarity on things like this, because i’ve been subconsciously avoiding confronting it..

i’ve grown quite adept at recognizing my depression, which takes on a wide variety of forms in its expression.. but as for my anxiety, i’m much less attuned to..

when i’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed, my knee jerk reaction is to get away from it, to distract from it, or to fix it.. never do i want to simply “sit” with it, to experience it. because my general fear is that i won’t be able to. or that maybe it’ll mean i have to change some things..

i’ve been taking on more over the past few weeks, feeling alive with life (hellooo, spring energy), ready to take on new projects, to do this living thing full-on..
so i don’t have a desire to be less busy, per se. but something i can recognize is that i’ll need to become much more skilled at boundaries, which continue to intimidate the heck out of me.

in her book, Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, Nedra Glover Tawwab explains:
“Mental health issues such as anxiety can be prompted by our neurological response to stress. When we are stressed, our brain has difficulty shutting down. Our sleep is affected. Dread sets in. As a therapist, I observe poor self-care, resentment, avoidance, and other mental health issues as common presentations of boundary issues.”

damn, so Nedra got my number, huh? she named the litany of experiences i’ve been cycling through over the past few weeks: anxiety, sleep disturbances, resentment, and avoidance.

here’s another quote from Nedra Glover Tawwab’s boundary book:
“If you think about it, the root of self-care is setting boundaries: it’s saying no to something in order to say yes to your own emotional, physical, and mental well-being.”

this brings me back to a quote i heard on the radio years ago that stuck with me: “sometimes saying no is actually saying yes.”

“no” feels harsh to me, especially as a woman who has been trained to be pleasant at all costs. (because sometimes, my literal survival depends on it..)

i also grew up in a household with, what Nedra refers to as “porous boundaries“:
– my mother knew no emotional boundaries, a classic oversharer
– my father has been so disinterested in taking care of himself over the years, i question if he could even name what he wants and needs
– my aunt was a people pleaser, non-confrontational, struggled with saying no and speaking up for herself, and was incredibly self-sacrificing

i don’t say any of this to drag the people who raised me — they’re all incredibly loving, generous, caring people. but they’re also human, and therefore flawed. which means i just didn’t really have boundaries modeled for me..

so as i try to practice them, i am becoming well acquainted with that queasy feeling that comes up when i feel like i am making someone i love feel sad or disappointed.. and it all but guts me.
[i’ve noticed that i often turn to anger in these moments, i believe as a strategy of protection, so i can keep some distance from me and the intense guilt i feel..]

one more thing from Nedra about poor boundaries and using avoidance to cope:
“Thoughts of fleeing… Fantasies of spending your days alone, ignoring calls, or hiding means you are seeking avoidance as the ultimate answer. But creating boundaries is the only real-life solution.”

goddamn, okay Nedra, we get it — you’ve been watching me for months and see my ways..

avoidance is definitely my main form of dealing with overwhelm.. i do it with friends when i feel like i don’t have the capacity to chat, i do it with my family group message, when my mom calls, and even right now, with a friend i’ve recently decided to collaborate with — i’ve know for a couple of days that i need to create a boundary, a container that differentiates our blossoming professional relationship from our personal one.. and yet, i’ve had such resistance to naming that need..

i want to be clear (mostly for myself) that sometimes “avoidance” is simply taking space for ourselves.. maybe Nedra would make the point that we need to articulate this to others, i don’t really know..
what i do know is that i often need space from my phone.. because it is simply too much.. so i’m sure there are still some nuances to be worked out.. i’ll let y’all know what i continue to find out.

i was jouraling today that i felt cheesy offering a prayer/public offering at the end of posts, but the reality is, i’m doing it mostly for me, because i need the reminder. so here’s one of my more general daily prayers:
may i remember the Love of the ancestors, the empowerment of the goddesses, the guidance of the spirit guides. in service to this Earth, in connection with Spirit.

more than anything, i don’t want a day to pass where people don’t remember their true nature as Divine beings. because this society so desperately wants us to forget, to become disconnected.. so i’m here to remind you.

❤ ❤ ❤ happy friday! i know i’m ready for it.

deep listening… is embodiment?

Writing, too, is ninety percent listening. You listen so deeply to the space around you that it fills you, and when you write, it pours out of you. If you can capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else.
You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table, but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door. And go beyond the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming in through the windows.
Listen to the past, future and present right where you are. Listen with your whole body, not only with your ears, but with your hands, your face, and the back of your neck.

Listening is receptivity. The deeper you can listen, the better you can write. You take in the way things are without judgment, and the next day you can write the truth about the way things are.” – Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
[note: i’ve bold-ed and slightly reformatted this quote]

this brings to mind a point James Clear makes in his book Atomic Habits about how if you want to write a book, practice the qualities of a person who writes a book:
“It’s probably someone who is consistent and reliable. Now your focus shifts from writing a book (outcome-based) to being the type of person who is consistent and reliable (identity-based).”

similarly, Natalie Goldberg seems to be making the point, if you want to be a writer, learn how to listen deeply — with your full body, with all your senses, going beyond the mind’s assessment of things, which is inherently limited by what it already “knows.”

as someone who’s wanted to be a writer most of my life, i’m captivated by these re-framings. they transform the idea of “being a writer” into a more holistic experience, beyond the mere act of putting words on a page.

for me, it makes the experience more tangible. i realize that this whole “writing thing” that’s intimidated me for years, decades even, is much less about being inherently brilliant, insightful, and naturally talented, but more so about showing up to the page every morning, no matter how i feel, and offering myself to the practice, time and time again.

it’s very knight of pentacles energy — consistent, hardworking, in it for the long haul, recognizes that big changes happen through small, daily choices.

and as unsexy as that might sound, i’m here for it. i mean, of course i have fear around “failing” at consistency, at letting my moods “get in the way.” but it still beats the previous framework of success as: be a genius!

this approach feels much more down-to-earth to me, which doesn’t mean not challenging.. consistency, for me, is deceptively hard.
but this process becomes much more accessible.. the dream is no longer a cloud floating in the sky, always out of reach. instead, it feels more like a plow on the ground, calling me to work the land, to give my whole body to the work from a place of dedication, of service, of practical Love.

my prayer for today is grounded in presence and intention, and deep listening from a place of embodiment. while also recognizing the need for energetic boundaries, because sometimes the world is simply too much (as a highly sensitive person, believe me, i know):

may we create space for the pause today, even if just for a moment, if just for a breath.
may we remember our nature as divine beings, and our reason for being put on this earth: service, Love, pleasure, growth.
may we continue to learn to trust ourselves, to tend to ourselves, to practice listening on a cellular level, so that every millimeter of our being can be felt.
❤ ❤ ❤

happy thursday, babes. much love ❤

the practice: digesting and integrating loneliness

horoscope offering for this week from the CHANI app:
“When I am lonely, I ask how I might serve others. When I feel isolated, I focus on the quality of each interaction. When I am lost in a spiral of self-pity, I recognize the bounty that surrounds me by naming everything I’m grateful for.”

“Just because you feel grief or sadness after making a decision, doesn’t mean you made the wrong one.” – Amanda E. White, @TherapyforWomen via @latinxgrief on IG.

“Existence has its moments.”- via @patsysibley on IG.

“…while I sometimes resist the work of writing, I resist my own psychic suffering more, and writing has become for me a primary means of digesting and integrating my experiences and thereby reducing the pains of living… There is no pain in my life that has not been given value by the alchemy of creative attention.” – Melissa Febos, Body Work

“The truth is that creativity occurs in clusters… It can be argued that successful art is built on successful friendships. It can certainly be said that friends are what enable an artist to go the distance.” – Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way Everyday

my heart feels weak, literally. over the past few years, i’ve had chronically low blood pressure, which although preferable to high, comes with its challenges:
– i black out very easily, especially going from a low to high position, which can make getting into a yoga flow pretty difficult
– my heart often starts racing for no apparent reason
– taking a hot bath can feel like a precarious endeavor
– when i get out of bed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, this can cause my heart to race and make it nearly impossible to get back to bed (often for a couple of hours)

it’s strange, getting older and my body changing. in the naivete of my youth, i had this sense that how life was was set in stone. and i felt oppressed by this idea.
but as i age, i realize with more gravity the ways in which nothing can be held onto for very long. and learning that appreciating things for what they are in the moment is truly the secret sauce of life.
(and also so freaking challenging. i guess that’s why they say retrospect is 20/20..)

if it wasn’t already clear, i don’t really know what my purpose here, today, on the page is. i provided the quotes above, because they are some of the messages guiding me in this iteration of my life.

other things that have been on my mind:
– money (god, fucking money..)
– environmental collapse
– the dynamics of solo poly
– loneliness (my own experience of it, and others’)
– my desire to read more and the ways my reading periods tend to come in waves
– an intentional cannabis practice and cannabis justice
– my relationship with the trees and the land..

loneliness is an interesting one, because it’s not solved simply by the presence of others…
in my experience, it’s a strong desire to be seen and felt by another, for my existence to be validated and my life shared.

i went into nature this past weekend in the hope that communing with the land would alleviate my loneliness.
unfortunately, in the vastness of the earth, seeing far and wide with little to no humans for miles, it had the opposite effect — i was able to feel more viscerally my loneliness (and desperately wanted to get away from it).

this makes me think of Buddhist and Yoga teachings, and the general sense that we navigate our lives distracting with the best of our ability from our deepest pains, our most unfathomable wounds..
being alone with the land, i was able to hold more space for being both alone and part of.
and see with more clarity that my loneliness is a product of my trying to avoid the hardest truths of existence, which is that none of this lasts.
and yet, i am still called to appreciate every second of it.

i was reminded yet again that salvation is in surrender, in no longer trying to fix or avoid..
yet as much as i can feel this truth, i am still coming up against a lifetime of practicing avoidance.. i still have the narrative stored in my body that feeling certain emotions, especially intensely, is not safe and could actually destroy me.

i have rarely been modeled rituals and processes around feeling deeply hard emotions, or cathartic release.

something i have gained over the past year or two is the evolving understanding that emotions want to move through me — sadness is not trying to set up camp, happiness is not moving in.
these emotional experiences are energy moving through my body, my being. to teach, to guide, to nurture, to warn, and then to move on.

well, i’m running out of steam on my musings.

i would offer a prayer, but instead, i’m going to repeat the CHANI offering from up above cause it’s worth repeating:

“When I am lonely, I ask how I might serve others. When I feel isolated, I focus on the quality of each interaction. When I am lost in a spiral of self-pity, I recognize the bounty that surrounds me by naming everything I’m grateful for.”

i wish y’all the best on your journey today. maybe we remember every day is precious, sacred, and an opportunity to practice.**
**which doesn’t mean it’s not hard, terrible, heartbreaking, or unbearable at times. to paraphrase a previous mentor of mine, “we’re meant to feel every emotion, darling.”

(lol, well i guess i ended up offering a prayer anyway)

love y’all
❤ ❤ ❤

self-assessment: can we pause to appreciate how far we’ve come?

can we live the questions? can we move through them, or more appropriately, can we allow them to move through us?

there is so much dominating my being right now: doubt, uncertainty, excitement, Love.

i have a strong sense of potential, and in-turn, an intense awareness around my fears of failure.

i’ve lived most of my life sculpting a box around myself — around who i should be, how i should act, what type of person i was. it was protective, for a time, and i’m grateful for it.

but in a cliched way, entering my 30s felt like entering a new plane of existence. i eventually realized i didn’t have to play by the rules presented to me throughout my youth. so the past couple of years has been reckoning with the truth of who i am versus the story i’ve adopted from a place of protection and external acceptance.

this has taken me many places, ones that have deepened my understanding of how unconventional i am.
my lack of desire for a traditional, committed relationship has informed me that i am not monogamous. i honestly don’t think i ever have been, but didn’t have the language or the understanding to come to terms with this.

this space to explore has made it clearer to me that i am also queer. another thing i believe i’ve always been, and yet, for so long, i couldn’t fathom how to integrate it into my identity. plus, i wanted so desperately to be accepted by straight men, and therefore avoided things that would compromise this.

i’ve learned a lot about my sexual preferences over the past few months. as someone with sexual trauma, there are lots of things that don’t currently feel safe or good. but i didn’t know how to give myself permission to accept this, to seek pleasure beyond those acts.
doing so these days is really exciting. i’m finding my kinks, moving towards embracing them. i’m learning how to tell partners what i like, what’s on the table, and what’s very much not.

getting older has also brought with it a sense of responsibility — to myself, to others, to my time on this Earth. i’ve been sitting with how to integrate my various selves into my writing, to create space to honor the collective suffering that seems to always be taking place somewhere on this globe.

i am working towards finding a “niche,” which is really about honing in on what interests me, what turns me on, and the ways i can bring these elements together to write about them.

i’m reminding myself, time and again, that when i speak to life experiences, to keep them personal, to avoid projecting my truth onto others.

i am learning that i have so much Love to give, and the ways i so desperately want to help others heal.

i’m learning how to deconstruct my resentment towards straight men from a lens of compassion. the more i engage with “typical” straight dudes, the more exposed i become to the pain of such intense emotional repression. and the more my heart breaks for them.

i’m trying to practice critiquing behavior from a cultural lens instead of attacking an individual.

i’m working to set down my “hater” card, because although calling out problematic behavior is beneficial, being a hater serves, from my perspective, no purpose. other than adding to general negativity.

but in doing so, i still want to be able to talk shit, to find the playful middle ground between shitting on others and fucking with them. because i believe not taking ourselves too seriously is actually healing for everyone involved.
and apologizing when i’ve accidentally taken things too far or hit a button offers me space to practice accountability.

it’s wild to think how recently i’ve moved from a place of self-detestation. i mean, it’s not as though i’ve completely freed myself from this practice, but the shift has been dramatic. which reminds me to appreciate myself and how far i’ve come so far on this journey.

i am grateful to every person who’s helped me get here, which are too many to name. adrienne maree brown being the most recent and potent example of someone who has modeled for me different ways to be that are nurturing, kind, engaged, compassionate.

i continue to learn the many forms Love can take, such as a daily routine that nourishes me. writing everyday is the most loving thing i’ve done for myself in a good while. it’s such a kind practice (when i let it be).

i’ve come to the conclusion, yet again, that i can’t focus on making money off of writing, at least not at this point in my life. that that would feel like jeopardizing this sweet, sacred practice.

i am growing in awareness on how to better tend to my body, trying to make shifts that are sustainable (versus extreme ones that last about a week).

i am learning how to share with others the person i am growing into, to trust their ability to receive me. and for this, i feel proud and grateful.

well, loves, i could go on, but i have an appointment to get ready for.

i realized that i have a practice of offering a prayer at the end of these posts. i hope you understand its intention is one of Love, and if it does not apply to you, to let it go quickly and with ease.

may we all remember our truest natures, as beings of Love and the Divine. may we allow the essence of life to be expressed through us, to become a channel for the changes we’d like to see in the world. may we remember kindness, first to ourselves, that then extends outwards. may we remember to dream, even if none of it comes to fruition. may you remember my Love, if you ever doubt that someone out here care about you.

much love.

❤ ❤ ❤