Monday, February 20, 2017

Forming New Habits!

Hello there! 

It's been a while, hasn't it? 

It takes 30 days to make (or break) a habit! This week I began/will begin forming some new habits in my life! Each day marks a new habit beginning and in 30 calendar days, I will hopefully have stuck through all of them! 

Would you like to know what they are?

Yesterday (Sunday the 19th of Feb)  began my first official day of no computer in bed

I have a pretty bad habit (as I'm sure most of us who own laptops do) of bringing my computer and falling asleep with my computer in my bed. I watch movies, play games, browse reddit, check emails, etc. All while in bed! I have a desk... I've just convinced myself the bed is more comfy. In reality, it makes my sleep schedule much worse, I come to rely on it to help me fall asleep (pandora, Netflix, podcasts), and ultimately I spend way too much time browsing when I could be doing literally anything else. Technically I started this goal last week, but Sunday was the first official "no more!" day.

Today marked day one of 15 minutes per day of cleaning up my room. This is a habit that I've actually fallen out of and I know will make me feel much better about stepping in and out of my room each day. 15 minutes per day really isn't much time at all, but I find myself wanting to or knowing I should clean my room, and it just builds and builds until I have to spend a whole day doing laundry and picking up when in reality, I could've tidied up each day and it would be nice and organized all the time! 

Tomorrow (even though I'm posting this past midnight) will be day 1 of no more Facebook! I'm sure we've all had our nice fasts from Facebook at different points, and I'm sure we all realized how much we didn't miss while we were gone! I really would love to delete my Facebook entirely, but with work, friends overseas, past coworkers/students I really do admit that Facebook can be a useful tool, a vain tool, but useful no doubt. This is partially why I've decided to make a blog post about it, that way I don't have to bombard someone's news feed with a wall of text that they will assume is about politics. 

On Wednesday I will begin no food/drink in my room that I'm not currently consuming. If you are my family (chances are you aren't) you know I hoard cups like they will be currency in the apocalypse. This is a pretty cut and dry habit, but you'd be surprised how lazy I can be when I don't feel like bringing a glass downstairs to put in the dishwasher or sink.

On Thursday I will begin the habit of charging my phone in a different room. This will probably be the most difficult, yet the most necessary habit to form. I could link to so many different articles/studies that speak to how unhealthy it is that we sleep with our phones literally in our beds or right next to us on the bedside table. Aside from that, I have personally become far to dependent on my phone. It is the first thing I see when I wake up and the last thing I see when I fall asleep. I have found that on average I spend 15 minutes browsing email, social media, and text messages before I actually get out of bed to start my day. I love you all but your texts can wait until I've at least gone to the bathroom and began the process of my face de-puffing. 

On Friday, I begin 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation before bed, each night. If you've never practiced minfulness, I'd suggest you look into it! It can be done any time, any place, by anyone. I personally prefer it before bed because it allows me to get more restful, dream-filled sleep. I also find that I don't scratch as much (I get hives sometimes) while i'm sleeping if I've practiced before bed.

On Saturday I will start drinking 1 pint of water first thing in the morning. I used to do this all the time and it didn't have a huge impact on my life, but generally helped me feel more hydrated. I drink plenty of water throughout my day, but the mornings are especially difficult for me and all I ever want is coffee. One pint is a drop in the bucket, so to speak, and is not difficult to achieve, but it's a much easier habit to fall out of than it is to fall into.

Finally, I'd like to encourage you to look at some healthy habits you can make or break this month! Quit smoking? No TV in bed? Shorter showers? They don't need to be very difficult or back breaking.

I have chosen these goals in order to make my life just a bit better and more healthy. I could've chosen "bike 10 miles a day" but I know that realistically I can bike 10 miles, but still sleep with my phone in my bed and staring at blue light still sucks, even if my quads look great! 

If you'd like to set up some goals, and don't know where to start, remember this: Make your goals "SMART"

S- Specific (ex- I will not bring my laptop into my bed for 30 days) 
M-Measurable (ex-28 out of 30 days were spent with no laptop in bed) 
A-Attainable (ex- Am I physically able to use my laptop outside of my bed? - do I have another area to use it or is my bed the only option?)
R-Realistic (ex-30 days without a laptop in bed is easily achieved... 30 days for me to build a laptop from scratch is unrealistic) 
T- Time Based (30 days VS "no more laptop ever") 

For me, I set SMART goals because it requires me to track my progress and really think through the goals I am setting, why I set them, and helps me to see potentially hard or uncomfortable tasks as much more manageable. 

Lastly, this is not meant to be a post where I toot my own horn, in fact, it's quite embarrassing to display how bad some of the habits I have are! I just thought I'd share some goals I am setting, in order to keep myself even more accountable to what I am setting out to accomplish. I hope you've enjoyed reading my goals and potentially will join or make some on your own! If nothing else, hopefully you enjoyed my ramblings. 

As always, I appreciate any feedback and welcome questions and discussion! Love you all

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Cross Country Drive

There's a lot to be learned about driving across the United States. Most of those things I learned along the way and definitely never mentally prepared for prior to the trip. Here are some things I learned, and some tips I found helpful along the way and will find helpful for my next journey.

Go with the Right People (person)
I got super lucky and had the opportunity to travel with a friend of mine from college. The trip would have been exponentially worse if it was a stranger or someone with a personality type that can be hard when you're on 3 hours of sleep. Neither Tyler or I felt the need to fill long hours of silence with speaking. We could swap stories or tell tons of jokes about the worst state in the union, but when it came to quiet time, that was okay too.

Be Flexible
Look, plans don't always work out the way you think they will (which we all know). Sometimes that is really disheartening, sometimes it actually works out for the best. For example... neither of us had cell phone service and we were taking a gamble on the GPS working at 3:30 in the morning. It randomly rerouted us straight through Indianapolis and lo and behold we just so happened to pass the Indy Motor Speedway. Now, I'm not a NASCAR fan, but it was cool to see a spot I've heard so much about. If we would have freaked out about the re-routing, we'd have never stumbled upon it.

Along with the flexibility comes a bit of compromise. Maybe you don't WANT to stay in a hotel in Lincoln, Nebraska, but sometimes that is what's absolutely necessary because you're running on fumes as far as your brain and body are concerned. Maybe you don't really WANT to stop at a McDonald's in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming in the snow, but sometimes, if you need service on your cell phone, McDonald's wifi can be a godsend.

Appreciate the Beauty

I can't begin to describe how beautiful the United States are. Words can't describe the moment I finally saw the Rockies from a distance, the sunset as we entered Montana, the abandoned junkyard in the middle of Nebraska... everywhere around me there was something really wonderful to look at. As you'll see in some of the pictures I post, there's a lot of really cool views to see.    

Southern Hospitality is Really a Southern Thing*

Unfortunately, this was probably one of the more negative aspects of the trip. I noticed (especially in Boulder) that people were almost surprised(?) when I said "Hi, how are you?" and smiled as I walked by. Even trying to engage with staff at gas stations or restaurants, etc was like pulling teeth at times. That's not to say that I didn't come across some really friendly people who couldn't believed we had just driven 19 hours straight through the night and were excited we were in their small town all the way from the east coast.

*As is sweet tea, unfortunately.

Go with the Flow

As cliché as the phrase is, I had some really good fun that was just a spur of the moment idea. I've been making it a goal of mine to say yes at least 5 times more than I say no in a day. Since making that goal, I've been meeting new people, going to new places, and experiencing really fun things I didn't think I'd be able to do. Say yes more often, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Communicate with Your Parents/Loved Ones

Your parents love you. They want to know you are not dead. When driving across the country, the absolute LEAST you can do is send a text letting them know when you get to certain landmarks or cross into different states.

I'm sure there is more I could write on, and I'm sure I will eventually. But as I learned very quickly and as you'll see in the picture: altitude sickness/sleep deprivation is real and it has definitely been effecting my mental state, breathing, sleeping etc.

In case anyone is curious, I've included our route we took. After being picked up from my house in Yorktown, VA, we drove to Northern VA just outside of DC and spent the night. The next afternoon we left DC and drove all day and night to Lincoln, Nebraska and arrived at about ~8:45, deliriously tired. Many Nebraska jokes were made and made up to pass the time. After a night in Nebraska, we headed to Boulder where we spent two nights, then drove alllll the way through the snow in Wyoming to get to Bozeman on Tuesday Night.

Love you all! Please feel free to comment or message. When I get my summer address, I always appreciate letters :)

Saturday, July 26, 2014

words of wisdom

I hardly would consider myself wise. In all honestly, I'm learning new things, falling on my face, picking up "the pieces" and making mistakes daily. But I do believe that over the course of my life, the last two years in particular, I have learned some valuable lessons, quips, mindsets, whatever you'd like to call them and I thought it would be great to share them with all of you! Some may seem so straight forward but they took me going through hard times, making mistakes, or getting to a low point to realize their value and role they play in my life.

When You Change the Way You Look at Things, the Things You Look at Change

1. If you're not breathing, you aren't living! 
      This one is huge for me. As I've mentioned in earlier posts, I struggle with a form of anxiety that causes me to have panic attacks. Sometimes these attacks are a result of a build up of stress. Quite honestly though, a majority of my attacks have been solely brought about because of negative thinking that cycles downward to a point where my mind and body completely take control and I'm left with a negative experience. Breathing has been such a huge "Technique" to help me overcome those "white knuckle" moments as I call them. When I find myself in a negative cycle of thoughts that is starting to make me feel some type of way, I have to remind myself to take a moment, step back, BREATHE (because normally by this point my breath is shallow and I'm beginning to panic) and logically think through what is making me struggle to focus. 

2. Now is now, then is then, that was that. 
//      I'm such an over-thinker in literally every sense of the word. I constantly find myself looking back at situations wondering what I could have said, should have done, shouldn't have done, etc until Im upset with myself for not doing things a certain way. On the other hand, I constantly obsess over the future. What will happen, where will I go? What will I be doing? What if I don't have friends, what if I lose a family member? What if I'm homeless?! What if I never figure "my thing" that I'm good at?! What if I'm never happy?!!?! Needless to say, think so far ahead into the future, and dwelling on the past are just not healthy. Yes, it IS healthy to plan things like "well I have X amount of dollars currently and owe X amount in a month so I need to make sure I only spend X amount" that's just logical. But to think 20, 40, 50 years into the future is not. As far as the past... it's already happened. There's literally nothing you or I can do to change that, as unfortunate as that may be. Something that has helped me immensely is to make short term goals. And I mean short term. Things like "I'm going to get my hair cut next week" or "Next month I'm going to make sure that my room is completely organized" When I focus on the here and now, it really leaves no room to obsess or dwell on future or past. Does this mean I don't have dreams and aspirations? Of course not... but I can't tackle them until I get the present in order.


3. Sometimes mistakes really are a blessing in disguise.
      We've all made our fair share of mistakes in life, myself definitely included. It's so cliche to hear these days "learn from your mistakes," but what does that really mean? Does that mean to never do that thing again? Absolutely not. By making a mistake and never getting back up and trying again, that's living by fear, and quite honestly, pride. No one wants to get hurt, or go through hard times, or look foolish, or admit they were wrong. But it's through mistakes we learn what we can and cannot handle, our approaches to situations, our mindsets, and our responses. I've made so many mistakes in the past two years: personally, professionally, relationally, with family, friends, myself. It would be foolish of me to make so many mistakes and never take a look back and see a common trend. While some things are out of our control, I'd venture to say that if you look at a lot of situations surrounding mistakes or hard times... YOU are the common thread. As discouraging as this may sound, it's quite the opposite! If your attitude, thoughts, actions, etc have been leading you toward making mistakes, that means YOU have the control to lead yourself out of those mistakes and allow them to be a teaching moment rather than a pity party.

4. Positivity goes a long way.
//      After circumstances of my moving back to VA in the beginning of July, I resigned myself that this time around, being back at home in the 757 I was going to be POSITIVE. Last year I was such a bummer and so in my head about everything that I accomplished very little. I made it a goal to do something positive every day. Some days those positive things are bigger, sometimes they are smaller (taking a bath to relax). But I have to be honest when I say even the attitude change of "I'm going to make the most of my time here, and when the time comes to leave, I will be ready" has already had such a profound impact on my life. I feel my relationships with my parents have gotten better, I've met and become closer to new people, I stepped out of my comfort zone and landed an amazing job at an awesome yoga studio, and in general, I've felt so much "lighter." Do I have bad days? Of course. But those bad days aren't detrimental or such a big knock out like they used to be because I know that it is only temporary and that I can do something positive the next day. I'd encourage anyone who has trouble  remaining positive, or who has a lot of negative thoughts in their head to try a process called "thought stopping" it's a super effective technique. Also, as cheesy as it sounds, place affirmations around your room, in your wallet, wherever, to remind you to be positive. It's up to you what you write or are inspired by, but I promise, positivity goes such a long way. 

5. Listen to your body
   This lesson is short and sweet, but very important to me. A lot of times, tension we feel is a direct result of our thoughts. If you are constantly stressed, worried, angry, anxious, upset, sad, lonely, etc... your body will respond with a lot of tension, soreness, fatigue, tightness, and sometimes less pleasant things internally... but we won't go into those. What I'm getting at: listen to your body. If you're constantly feeling these body symptoms, they most likely are a direct result of your mind. Now, I'm not a medical doctor so if you are having legitimate pain and think you are sick, you need to respond accordingly. But, I'd encourage you to observe your body and then your thoughts accordingly. You'd be surprised how changing your thoughts can actually change the way your body feels! 

There are so many more things I could write about but those are the paramount thoughts for now. I might write a part two as more thoughts or lessons come to mind. I encourage any feedback (public or private) and I'm always here to talk to anyone who needs an ear :) love love love 


Wednesday, March 26, 2014


**Disclaimer: The following post, while meant to be educational and experiential in nature may have trigger words or bring about negative feelings to some who might suffer from such illnesses that I will discuss. I in NO way mean to harm others, and respect any wishes to read no further in this post**

According to the ADAA (Anxiety & Depression Association of America) 40 Million adults in the United States alone have some form of an anxiety disorder. That's 18% of the total population of our nation (While I love kids, this statistic only involves adults, sorry). Only 1/3 of these disorders go on to be treated by mental health and medical professionals. Why is that? According to The Economic Burden of Anxiety Disorders, cost associated with treatment of anxiety disorders and their associated illnesses is about $42 Billion (1/3 of the total "Mental Health Bill alloted for our nation). A vast number of people with mental illness, specifically Anxiety disorders go completely untreated. Statistically speaking, people with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who don't suffer from anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders can range and some people suffer from more than one kind of anxiety disorder. Additionally, almost half of the population diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are also at some point diagnosed with depression (and vice versa). Here is a simplified list of the most common anxiety disorders included in these statistics:

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
    6.8 Million adults (3.1% of U.S. Population)
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
    2.2 million (1%)
  • Panic Disorder
    6 Million (2.7%)
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
    7.7 Million (3.5%)
  • Social Anxiety Disorder
    15 Million (6.8%)
  • Specific Phobias
    19 Million (8.7%)
    *Specific Phobias aren't included in the 40 million/18% statistic.
The most common co-occourance of illness with anxiety disorders is depression. But others include: bipolar disorder, eating disorders, headaches, irritable bowel sydrome, sleep disorders, substance abuse, adult ADHD, body dysmorphia, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, and stress. 

I made this post not only to educate but to hopefully open some eyes and hearts about what really happens to some people. It's not about "calming down" or "cheering up". Yes, some people do require more help than others be it meds, therapy, exercise, diet, whatever. But in the end we all want the same things: happiness, success and to feel safe and capable. If you know anyone who has anxiety or any sort of mental illness I encourage you to ask questions in a loving way, become an advocate and offer support and safety for them. No matter how much it might not make sense or how hard it is to relate, the person will be forever grateful to have you in their life. On the other hand, those of us will anxiety or other mental illnesses need to be able to let people in and be those shoulders to lean on. I know from experience that I literally can't do it on my own. Coping isn't about curing yourself or even being cured. There unfortunately is no magic  pill that can take these feelings away, but there ARE loving and supportive people out there who want nothing but the best for us! If you are feeling alone, please seek out help in some way or talk to someone you trust as much as you can and use them as an advocate to help you get the assitance you need. The sooner, the better. 

I hope by this point some of you are still reading! Although that is a lot of information, it is important to note that a very high population of our country is suffering through a specific form of mental illness, which in turn can lead to other mental illnesses. I in know way can speak for those with other disorders, nor will I rank their severity as I have not experienced them. But I DO know that many of these illnesses can start very early in life and follow us into our elderly lives. They can have a major impact on our interactions with other people, our jobs, our education, our well being and living situations. I would like to use this forum to share my own personal experience (to an extent) with all of you as I feel it can be useful to just learn or possibly to relate. I welcome any questions and feedback. I will also be including quotes from willing friends who shared with me. Please keep an open mind and heart while reading and if anxiety disorders are not something you struggle with, try to put yourself in the shoes (or mind) of others. Lastly, please remember there is a difference between being anxious and anxiety. EVERY person feels anxious at some time or another, but not everyone has an actual anxiety disorder or mental illness.

My experience with anxiety didn't "truly" start until I was in college. I say truly because I believe I had the symptoms and experiences of anxiety previously but did not know that's what I was experiencing until I was much older. Of course I am grateful for the diagnosis, but in some ways, ignorance was "bliss". To begin my journey, I will share the process by which I found out about my anxiety.

I began attending Radford University the fall of 2010. Of course, like almost everyone I know, I was so pumped to be in college and on "my own". I had an awesome roommate (shouts out to Jasey Rae if you're reading!) and a great group of friends as I was very involved with my church at the time. I really began to notice strange behavior or feelings when I realized that I would sometimes be extremely out of breath and absolutely dread going to class for what appeared to be no reason. I remember being in lines and not being able to stand still and anticipating my wait because I really felt the need to sit down, and that I continuously would swallow because I felt panicked and nauseous. I would sometimes pace around my dorm room while my roommate was gone and try to decide what to do and would make deals with myself e.g. If you go to this class, then you can skip your last class and come back and relax. or You're just not a morning person, skip your morning class, take a shower, and everything will be better! I also remember cloudy mornings where I literally couldn't fathom the idea of even trying to get out of bed. My eating habits were so up and down, I would eat the most food I possibly could while alone because I knew that my eating wasn't "normal" and it only got worse around people. *Quick note: I know NOW that my anxiety tends to stem around eating, although I do not struggle with any sort of eating disorder, but I will explain that more later*  I believe I did a relatively excellent job at hiding these symptoms of what I now know to be anxiety. I made a lot of excuses as to why I didn't want to answer phone calls, go out to meet new people on campus with my church group, always needed my water bottle no matter what, hated being in cars with people I did not trust to drive, take extremely long naps, etc. In hindsight, the signs and symptoms were all yelling in my face, I just had no idea that all these odd behaviors seemed to link. I remember a specific instance where I felt completely fine one morning and had actually succesfully completed a monologue for one of my theater classes and was walking to my next class and all of a sudden was overcome with the feeling that I was having a heart attack and couldn't breathe and that I was literally going to die right that second. What made it worse was that I was in a very public walking area and sat down on a bench breathing so heavily and sobbing, rocking back and forth, and I felt that my behavior was "crazy" and everyone was most likely staring at me. I know now that I was experiencing a panic attack, but I had never had one that bad previously, so I legitimately was not prepared and had no idea what my body was doing. Instead of going to class, I slowly walked to my dorm, shaking the whole way, got in my bed and couldn't sleep or cry or really do anything. I thought I had just escaped death. Funnily enough, I was STARVING after and ate a ton of food once I felt safe enough to put one foot in front of the other. I spent a lot of time on campus alone as I felt I didn't want people to notice this strange behavior.

Fast forward to the summer after my freshman year of college. Eating became more and more difficult for me as I noticed more and more symptoms. I felt that I could take two bites and feel so full that I was going to vomit if I took one more bite. I would try and felt like I was gagging and I had no idea why. I would go for days without eating and eventually not drinking either and I was miserable. I dropped to a dangerous weight, had passed out on a few occasions and was frustrated when doctors didn't understand that I wasn't CHOOSING not to eat, I literally felt that I couldn't. My breaking point was when I had been to the hospital probably four times and I had gone about 5 days without eating or drinking anything and was told my a medical doctor that no test was revealing any medical problem and that I most likely should seek counseling. I wanted to hear a diagnosis and get the magic pill. That didn't come and it was so frustrating. That was the summer I first heard of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder and Social Anxiety (I'd heard of social anxiety in terms of being nervous around people, but not social anxiety in the mental health sense). I was put on a medication and felt a lot better, but knew I couldn't be on meds forever.

My symptoms continued through my sophomore year, but I was able to manage them as they were not as bad before and at least I KNEW why I felt terrible all the time. I moved to Philadelphia the summer of 2012 and spent almost a month alone every day the first month I was there. I would walk from my apartment a few blocks to Starbucks to use the wifi and sometimes sit there glued to my seat because I felt too nervous to get up and didn't think I could make it to my apartment without crying or throwing up or passing out. My anxiety was relieved some when I started my job and was able to put my focus on a high stress environment where I honestly didn't have the "time" to focus on my anxiety (anyone who has worked for City Year can tell you that you honestly don't have much time for anything BUT City Year). I learned to hide panic attacks very well and to "escape" situations as my job afforded me the luxury of being able to walk out of a room if need be without any question. I had a hard time in Philly for some months, but they became so amazing when I made some awesome friends. I had two people in particular that really helped me focus on work and not on myself as much (I hope they read this and know who they are... I love you and miss our morning commute). My anxiety really took a back seat because I was so focused on so many other people and things I needed to get done, that it was only in privacy or times when I was alone for whole weekends that my anxiety really took the reins.

Eventually, my internship at City Year ended and I was set to have a promising job and was really only concerned with looking for a new apartment for when my lease ended. That job fell through, and then so did every. other. job. I began to worry and especially became worried when money ran out. Not only was time ticking on finding a new apartment, but how was I supposed to live in that new place without a job?! That summer, I spent so much time alone in my apartment searching for jobs and places. I did not have money to buy groceries so I stretched what I had, but even then, felt sick when I ate. I remember getting $25 dollars from my mom for some groceries and I walked the block and a half to Whole Foods and it was the first time I had left my apartment in literally two weeks. I gave myself the pep talk before going in, but the second I walked in my body literally took over and I could feel myself starting to panic. Instead of  just walking outside for a few minutes and then returning I grabbed the closest thing to me (two packages of expensive organic strawberries) and ran to the closest register I could. I felt like an idiot when I got home and realized I had bought the most useless food possible.

I would tell my mom about how anxious I was feeling, but didn't want to come home almost daily. It wasn't until I was in the home of a woman I was supposed to begin nannying for (a job that would have put me in an AWESOME situation in Philly) and had one of the worst panic attacks that I had experienced up until that point that I realized my anxiety had reached a point that I no longer felt in control of myself and began to come to terms with the fact that I could no longer handle being on my own anymore. I was so embarrassed and ashamed that I had just had a near seizure in the home of a practical stranger. I no longer felt safe in my own apartment, I no longer felt safe leaving my apartment, I couldn't bear the thought of walking down the street to get food, let alone the thought of speaking to anyone. I returned home to VA July 2013.

My life has changed a LOT in a short amount of time. Literally the summer of 2013 is a blur to me, I saw no one, didn't really leave the house unless I was forced to, had panic attacks almost daily, lost way too much weight, cried every day, etc. I literally felt like I had lost control of my life. Instead of my normal tenacious attitude to pick myself up by my bootstraps and fix it all on my own, I accepted the fact that my life would only go downhill and "this is how it will always be". I'm not out of the woods yet. I experience some amount of anxiety every day. Some days it's just a bit of jitters and uncomfortable feelings in a store or needing to sit down and breathe some, others I'm full blown panicking and stay in my room and don't want to speak to anyone. But, on the other hand, I have made a ton of progress and not on my own! There are so many people who have helped me make goals, keep my head up, think of things in different ways, and keep me sane (literally) I wish I could thank all of those people, but that's not what this post is about :) 

I'd now like to take some of the attention off of my "story" and focus now on some symptoms. MANY people have asked me before what a panic attack is, they've heard of them or think they have an idea but want to personally know what it's like to experience a true panic attack.

**A bit of science... a panic attack is, simply put, your body's "fight or flight" response happening out of context. Every single person on earth has experienced the feeling of a huge adrenaline rush in which we are able to accomplish something we normally wouldn't. In the case of real danger, every single one of us will have the rush of adrenaline, the slowing down of thought processes, racing heart beat and rapid breath because it allows our body to do exactly what it is meant to do in the face of danger: fight or run. Now imagine for instance you are walking down a dark, desolate street and realize you are being followed and are going to be killed. Your heart will start beating faster, your breathing will become rapid, almost to hyperventilation, and your thoughts will become a sole focus on survival and escaping the danger in any way you can. NOW, imagine that same feeling while lying in your bed at night and knowing that there is no "real" danger, only danger that is "perceived". It can be an incredibly scary feeling and leave you fearful of it happening again. **

 Rather than give you a list of symptoms or feelings, I'd like to take this time to quote the experiences of those I have received permission from to share. My own experiences are mixed in, but the importance is to note the similarities (and differences) but also how scary and detrimental just ONE panic attack can be to the psyche of a person. 

"I can almost always tell I'm about to have a panic attack because my thoughts start not making sense"

" heart begins to race and it feels like my chest is so tight. I think I'm having a heart attack..."

"It usually starts with anxious feeling in my stomach and will move it's way up to my chest"

"I feel extreme lightheaded-ness and then pressure in my chest..."

"I cry so much. I can't help the tears, they just come."

"My limbs lock up and my nails will start digging into my skin, I literally can't unlock my feet and hands."

"I will pace and flail my arms"

"My thoughts race and I can't focus on anything BUT the panic"

"I think of everything negative that's happening and it only intensifies those feelings"

"I don't feel in control of my own body, I feel like I'm losing my mind..."

"It feels like it will never end. I feel like the panic won't ever stop"

"I can't breathe. It starts to hurt after a while..."

"I feel so dizzy"

"I know the things I need to do in order to not panic, but once I get past a certain point, there's no stopping the panic from happening"

"I shut down completely and can't hear what the people around me are saying"

"I feel like my legs will crumble underneath me, but all I want to do is run and run"

"I feel hysterical and crazy"

"I feel crazy"

"I feel crazy"

"I feel like I'm going crazy"

"It's a crazy feeling."

"I think I'm going to die"

"It feels like I'm actually dying"

"I think I'm dying"

"I know logically you can't die from a panic attack, but no matter what I always feel like I'm dying"

These examples and quotes may seem to be random or whiney or "irrational" to those who have never experienced any of the above. To those who HAVE they may seem very familiar and even make you laugh. I know for me, seeing the experiences of others and how similar they are to mine help to remind me that I'm NOT actually insane.

At the end of the day, I know that my anxiety isn't magically going to go away, it's a long process with many different opinions on just how to "fix it". It takes strength, courage, and honesty with myself to approach the idea and begin taking the steps I need to overcome my anxiety. My goal is to one day have my anxiety under such control that it is a memory rather than a daily struggle or reminder. I can't do it without the support of those that I love. Special shoutout to my best friend and my boyfriend for sitting with me while I cry or act weird or don't make sense and complain. I couldn't do it without you.

 Please leave me a comment or personal message if you have any questions or ever need someone to talk to. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Become a Yogi in 967 Simple Steps!

 Alright, the title is totally misleading, I'll admit. First, because there's no step by step guide to being a yogi, and secondly because you don't even need a guide, deciding to do yoga and deepening your practice and then actually getting on the mat makes you a yogi in your own right! So in this post I will be talking mostly about my journey thus far, and sharing some tips to help you in your journey!
      I get a lot of questions from friends and family alike about practicing yoga. It's just that though... a practice! No NFL player, no olympian or musician or actor, whatever the profession may be gets to the level they are without practice! In Yoga, we call it a "practice" because it is a constant state... your practice doesn't end, hence... a journey.
        There's no pinnacle (in my opinion) of a Yogi's practice. You never reach perfection, never reach a wall where there is no more yoga for you to do, or where you've mastered it all. It's constantly flowing and changing based on your body, your mind, your state, your breath and ability. You need merely to start and there you are. A Yogi. Congratulations. Pat yourself on the back.
For those who may not have started practicing or are maybe curious and would like to learn more, here are some basics!

The Curious Case of a Yogi

         Okay so I'm assuming most people have a general idea of what they think yoga is or who they think the people or type of people that do yoga are. Let me be straight forward- unless you actually practice or have ever practiced yoga in a public setting, you are most likely dead wrong. It's not all granola munching, dreadlocked white women who have healing crystals who try and get you to come live on their commune, I promise. It's also not an activity that requires a contortionist's flexibility. Yoga and yogi's come in all shapes, sizes, forms, and ability levels. Which leads me to my first basic tip of yoga:

Be Open-Minded
      Having wild expectations or convincing yourself that your experience will be or should be a certain way might lead to frustration, embarassment or quite honestly a nice slice of humble pie! You never know who will be on the mat next to you, where they are from or their ability. In the same way you don't want someone making sweeping generalizations about you or the activities and passions you have, don't do that to others! I've walked into a class where I was the only person under 50 years old and I saw a grown man deepen poses past what I would expect any grown man to be able to do. Not only can you learn from others, but let others serve as an inspiration to you and your practice! Always begin your practice with an open mind and heart, you never know who or what you will come across.

Get Comfortable With the Atmosphere

      There is a certain atmosphere or "type" that most people picture when they think about yoga. It can seem awkward or silly to speak in certain ways or use certain terms that you don't use in your day to day life. It's perfectly normally to feel a little bit out of place the first few times you practice or hear these terms or experience someone who is actually relaxed and not completely wound tight. My advice is to jump in with two feet! The more you focus on the awkwardness or that it might not be natural for you, the further away your mind becomes from what is truly important during your practice. Just go with the flow! No one in the room is going to judge you if you don't do ohm on a regular basis or say namaste or know the Indian pronunciations for the poses or know all about your chakras. Everyone starts somewhere. It's fun to learn and try new things. 

Don't Expect to be an Expert on Your First Try
     As I said earlier, Yoga is a practice, a constant moving cycle, climb, rise and fall. Everyone has varying levels of flexibility when they begin, and different bodies in general. For instance, my right leg is over a centimeter shorter than the other, so while I am naturally quite flexible and able to deepen many poses past what some might be able to, I do have a hard time with certain balance poses as well as poses that require close to perfect symmetry because, I'm not. I promise that you won't be able to do those crazy poses you see online during your first class, it's just not realistic. But the more you practice and focus on your body and becoming stronger in the basics, those poses may come. Don't discourage yourself by comparing your practice to the person on the mat next to you (this includes if you are "better" than them; don't get arrogant).

Try New Things
     I know a lot of ladies out there are a bit uncomfortable with the size/shape/look/feel of their own bodies and, as women, we can compare ourselves to others a LOT. It's totally okay to not be the most flexible person in the room. You might think "oh I'm way too fat to do that pose/stretch" and look at little miss yoga next to you and get in your head that you can't do things. My biggest advice: JUST TRY IT! You will surprise yourself with how far you can push your body, and over time, the pose that seemed impossible will become second nature, you just have to push past your comfort zone. For the fellas, just because you are a man does in NO way mean you are not flexible! You will never know how far you can go unless you try. Yoga is not meant to be feminine, so there should be no insecurity in your mind. I've been next to a 60 year old man who could deepen poses and modify them to points I personally couldn't dream of, so don't judge yourself by your cover and don't just assume you are better or worse than the person next to you! 

Remember Your Breath
    Yoga as relaxation, stress relief, or a work out in my opinion is somewhat pointless if your breathing is all out of whack. Your breath should be deep and flowing and HELP you during your practice. It serves as a flow mechanism, a stablizer and a center of focus and control. Not everyone has the same lung capacity so you may hear others breathing very loudly or more rapidly than you, but focus on inhaling deeply and exhaling toxins and negativity.

Don't Give Up!
     It may take more than a few classes to help you see improvement but I am willing to put money down (that I don't even have) that you WILL see improvement in your body at the very least. From personal experience, yoga has helped to relax me, allow me to take my mind off of stress in my life, build endurance and strength, and feel more clear-headed and in control of my own body. For example, my entire life I have NEVER been able to do a pull-up (or chin-up, as some call it). I've done a bit of rock climbing, and although that has helped me to build up some muscle, consistently practicing yoga, yin yoga in particular allowed me to randomly do a pull up while walking through a doorway. Talk about a happy moment for me. Even if you never can do a crazy headstand from yoga, you WILL benefit from it, so don't give up!

Pain is NOT Gain
     Yoga as a process and practice is meant to relax, center, and stretch us. Yes, it is a "workout" in the basic sense of the word, but contrary to the gym mentality "No Pain, No Gain", we do not want to cause our bodies pain while doing yoga. This does not mean that we shouldn't push ourselves. It's normally to feel the pull and "burn" and even get out of breath or exhausted from yoga... because you are participating in a deep stretch, active process. But you should not be pushing yourself to a point of pain. If you've noticed that every time you do "______" pose/stretch during yoga, I'd advise you to speak to the instructor before or after class to get some tips. If you have a chronic pain/illness, I'd also say your best bet is to speak to the instructor so that you can receive modifications that can suit your needs. As far as deepening a pose, when you get to the point of actual pain, you need to step back. It's okay if everyone else in the room is in the deepest state of the pose and you aren't. And if you constantly find yourself in pain during yoga, you're doing it wrong. I'd advise you to assess your motives and really figure out why you are practicing in the first place. When done correctly, yoga WILL improve your figure, flexibility, endurance and strength. As I mentioned before, I was never able to do a pull up my entire life until I consistently practiced yoga... not once did I feel pain or have to lift a weight. Sure, I had  moments of sweating and hard breaths and wishing poses would end so I could get in that comfy corpse pose, but that is all part of pushing yourself. 

 I speak from the heart and personal experience when I say that yoga has really changed my life. I look forward to deepening my practice with every session, every stretch, every breath and every time I spread that mat on the floor. I love yoga and everything associated with it. If you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask. I'm also VERY welcome to tips and pointers as I know some awesome yogis in my own life! I hope you enjoyed and I hope you'll give yoga a shot-if you do please tell me about your experience! Namaste
-Molly Grove

Saturday, February 22, 2014

For Sale!

Vintage Levi Cut-offs For Sale
Ladies, this post is for you! (Or fellas... if you'd like to buy your girl something nice!) Anyway, I sadly have to part with an awesome pair of vintage Levi Cut-Off shorts that I purchased. They just don't fit me the right way and never will but I'm hoping someone can get some use out of them because they are gorgeous and perfect for summer and can go with a LOT of different shirts/sweaters/bathing suits.

As you can see, they are quite narrow in the waist (they are high waisted) W23 is about a size 0 or 1. They also feature a row of buttons instead of a zipper which is quite nifty. But, as they are vintage, you never know who wore them before you, and apparently this woman had a bit more junk in the trunk and I, unfortunately, do not. They were purchased in Australia (as full length pants) for 80 dollars and sold to me for 50. I am a bit flexible on the price, but since I've never had the opportunity to wear them, I'd love to get some profit as I'm saving up for a move. Let me know if you're interested, you can comment directly or just message me on facebook OR email me I'd love to see these go to a great girl and not sit in my drawers collecting dust. Thanks so much love you all! Namaste!!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Friend In All Seasons

What's in a Best Friend?

     Ladies and gents, I'd like to introduce you to one of the kindest, smartest, most thoughtful, intellectual, hilarious, unique individuals I've ever met and have the absolute honor and blessing to call my best friend.
    Who would have thought the girl with the long, braided hair and braces from the first day of Mrs. Rollin's 6th grade history class would one day be the girl I share my deepest, darkest, innermost thoughts. The one that I trust above everyone else. The girl I know who has my best interest at heart, even when it might be the hardest pill to swallow. I can honestly say I've never had a friend like her, and most likely never will. To be quite honest... no one can match up to her.
   But what is it that has brought us from shy 11 year old polar opposites to best friends who ignore the texts of boyfriends in favor of texting each other? What about our friendship has stood the test of time and the test of growing up and going our separate ways in adulthood? There are a lot of factors, some a complete mystery to me, others that have taken hard work, patience and honesty on both of our parts.

    First, let me start by saying that Jasmine and I are very different people. Our relationship is not like the scene in Parent Trap when the twins find out that they actually really love all the same things and aren't all that different and then share peanut butter and oreo snacks (which I find revolting by the way). To be quite honest, when Jasmine and I first met, I was very conservative. If I had known myself then, I probably wouldn't have liked me very much. I also was very sheltered and had really only lived in one place my whole life. I had never experienced loss or had a wide range of life experiences and travelled away from East Coast. Jasmine, by the time I met her, had not only travelled a ton, but had lived in other countries. She also had spent a lot of time in New York City as a child which was a big sparkling foreign cool dream of a place to live in my mind. Middle school Jasmine was very into cool music I had never really even heard of. I thought she was definitely cool.

     Our relationship deepened in high school when we formed a close knit group of friends Kubesh (shouts out to the Kubes! Love you guys!). As high school progressed we realized that although we disagreed on a few big things in life, we still found a common ground in our senses of humor and our wild idealistic dreams of what the future should be like for us. I learned that she was someone I didn't have to be afraid of being myself around or making ugly faces, or have to wear make up at all times or the coolest clothes. As long as we could keep each other laughing and sane during class, we were happy. Let me take this moment to tell you all how incredibly smart Jasmine is. She thinks on a different wavelength than anyone I've ever known. I've never known someone to be able to think so intellectually about life and writing and analytical pursuits as well as be able to grasp higher levels of math and science like they are second language. I'm not trying to be falsely modest about myself either. Jasmine is really incredibly smart.
      I remember our first ever "fight" which wasn't even much of a fight as much as it was a marker in our friendship. I remember we used to always point out the fact that we didn't argue or fight. But that disagreement kind of awkwardly opened a door for us. It's OKAY to have a best friend that you disagree with. That doesn't mean your friendship is over. To be frank, I find it weird that some people never disagree with their friends or challenge the ideas of others.... it seems boring, in my opinion, to be dating/friends/hanging out with pretty much a carbon copy of yourself.
      Leaving for college without Jasmine was actually pretty hard on me. She was at a school that I really wanted to be at, and seemed to be having such a blast, making awesome friends without me. Sure, we still talked incessantly, but it just seemed different. I missed her all the time and told all my friends at my school about her. I could bore you all with the huge story of the past four years of our lives in more detail than you'd ever need, and that I don't necessarily care to share. Instead, I'll leave some words of wisdom or maybe some tips that can help in your current or future relationships (it doesn't have to just be with friends- it can be a boss, romantic relationship, family, etc). These are things I've noticed about Jasmine and my friendship that have helped us stand the test of time and grow stronger to the point where I know she will never be out of my life. Ever.

Maintaining, Keeping and Deepening Friendships

                                                                                    Be the Real You
     Flat out. If you have to pretend to be someone you're not just to be around someone or you feel uncomfortable sharing truths about yourself or your opinions to someone, whether it be because of intimidation, fear of judgement, whatever... then I'd advise you to take a step back and assess whether this person is truly worth your time. Anyone that you can't be honest with is only going to cause stress in your life. Sure, you don't need to tell all your friends your deepest, darkest, innermost thoughts. But if it comes to the point where you feel like you need to dress up or wear make-up everytime you hang out with so-and-so and you normally don't.... that's a red flag. Be honest about yourself first and foremost.

       Honesty is a huge thing in my book. As I've said in my previous post, I feel judged a lot of the time. Although I know Jasmine never would want to hurt me or judge me, I sometimes feel that way. It's taken some hard talks, awkward conversations, hurt feelings and a few days of silence for us to really be able to be honest about certain things in our relationship. But if hard truths and honesty is what it takes to be stronger, take the plunge. If your friend doesn't appreciate your humble honesty, they really aren't your friend.

Apologizing Isn't a Sign of Weakness
   In my life I kind of live by this philosophy that I never say "I love you", "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you" unless I truly mean it. And I know that this can cause a lot of frustration in my relationships, especially with my close friends. I've had to learn that apologizing (especially to Jas) is not a sign of weakness and does not give her "the upper hand" because that's not even what she's searching for in the first place. Apologies go a long way. Swallow the pride of wanting to be right or say your piece or defend yourself and realize that you've hurt a person who you not only care for, but who cares for you and was vulnerable enough to approach you in their time of hurt.

Share Yourself
   Relationships are fun to have, even the shallow ones. But as most of us know, the shallow ones don't go very far and leave us feeling empty and bored. Part of deepening a friendship is taking that step to show the other people the real you. Not just the funny, activity partner but the real person who has a past and thoughts about the present and future. Sometimes I find myself feeling the closest to Jasmine when we are talking about our futures and the big scary things that are ahead. Although we have different ideas of the future and what we want for our respective lives, it's comforting knowing someone is in the fight with me and I'm not alone in my thoughts of fear, apprehension, not knowing what my next steps are and so on. Sure, you don't need to stretch yourself thin and tell all your friends your deepest feelings and life story, but find the one or two people who you feel closest to and don't be afraid to open up. Chances are, they are feeling the same ways you are and those conversations will only bring you closer together. And the bounce back from a deep conversation to a conversation about farts or jokes or silly voices is astounding.

Quality over Quantity
   This is a lesson I had to learn in high school and again in college, and quite honestly am still learning now. It's something that I think girls in particular might struggle with (I'm not sure about guys-I'm not one) but women are emotional creatures who desire connection. The more friends we have, how is it possible to truly be connected in deep ways with so many people? When I was younger I thought "the more friends I have, the cooler I'll look, and the more people will want to be friends with me!" but then I realized I really didn't have many deep friendships and would go to bed wondering who my real friends actually were. I found that the fewer people I was friends with, the more I could deepen my relationships. Popular culture or media wants us to think the more friends, followers, subscribers, retweets, reblogs, shares, the better! But at the end of the day we don't lay down thinking "Wow, I got 25 likes on that instagram!!!!" We think about plans with our close friend or conversations we had that day. I'm not saying it's bad to have a large friend group, don't get me wrong. But I DO think it is important to have a few people who you can really trust and share a deep connection with. It's not that you can only have one best friend and no other friends... that's not realistic. But don't sacrifice true friendship and deep connection for the sake of having large groups of shallow friendships. Think about it as your wedding party. If you had to pick today who your bridemaids or groomsmen would be, who would you choose? If you're having trouble narrowing it down because you have too many people, maybe take some time to think about who those deep relationships are in your life. If you're having trouble coming up with more than just your best friend, maybe take some time to think about branching out and meeting some new people.

     At the end of the day, I know that Jasmine will  always be my best friend. We have had our fair  share of disagreements, laughs that make my abs hurt, laughs that make me throw up in public, cries on the phone, cries in Five Guys, late nights, sharing each other's heartache, exchanges of funny videos, and lastly I know that Jasmine is my first true love. I will never have another friend like her, and I'm sure that I want to. She will always have a special place in my heart, and as our lives change, so will our relationship, but I know that we will always make time for each other and that our kids will be awesomely dressed and talented and have playdates where we bore them with stories and give them cool names and laugh when they fall down because we might have had one too many glasses of wine.

You're the best, Defeo. Stay gold, Pony Boy.
Goodnight, Sweet Prince