When you feel guilty for “me time”

For the folks who are “too nice,” and “just want to be alone,” or have a hard time saying “no.” 
A walk through my brain’s process to exert boundaries and establish needed alone time. 
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Situation:
  • I love my partner. We moved in together 2 months ago.
  • So now, I’m learning how to advocate for and get alone time despite living with someone.
  • Affirmation: I trust my love doesn’t fade as I focus my energy on personal tasks.
Me Time Activities: (should vs need/want)
  • ** ANY CHOICE IS THE RIGHT CHOICE – No ONE right answer. **
  • Draw: for blog, for friends, infographic on computer, future stickers
  • Read: library book, magazine, articles
  • Harmonica: book – try some notes; sign up for lessons
  • Sew: use serger, take sewing project upstairs!
  • Exercise: Yoga, tiny run/tiny walk, hip exercises, shoulder exercise, strength (push ups, abs, squats, lunges)
SHOULD vs NEED/WANT:
  • Feel like I should be paying attention to my partner and regulating my behavior to suit his needs/behaviors
    • Says Peggy perfectionist pleaser
  • NEED/WANT: I may feel inclined to walk on eggshells and please, but what I really want is to relax into my hobbies and own self care. DO YOU GIRL.
Thoughts/reminders:
  • It will likely feel uncomfortable to put my needs first, but that’s okay.
  • WHY?
    • It serves both of us well; helps manage my energy; prevents irritability due to not putting my needs first. 
  • Anjuli said it too: MY NEEDS FIRST. 🙂 I’m ALLOWED TO DO THAT. I DESERVE TO BE TREATED WELL, ESPECIALLY BY MY SELF. 
  • Put myself in their shoes – see through compassionate lenses.
HOW: tips & strategies:
  • Get into my groove – create “space” – 
    • Headphones, ear plugs
    • Go into another room if possible
  • Ask for verbal affirmation
  • Timer: help separate me time from partner
I think a lot of us struggle with boundaries, or putting our own needs first. For various reasons, it’s a hard thing to do! I’m still practicing this skill, but let me tell ya- I’m so proud of myself when I do! You are worth treating yourself well.
xo Shine on xo
Carly

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I wrote about strength and bravery in the context of reconnecting with my self after graduating in my last post. So cheery merry la di da here I was floating along enjoying my time off and getting strong at Pure Barre… Then some doubt seeped in, and I realized (again) that life is composed of ups and downs. Wahp wahp wahhhhp.

I got sick last week and have started my new job (two weeks in the bag, baby!). Both of these occurrences have had their own hand in my self doubt and increased anxiety. With my sinus infection – on one hand, “I’m sick who cares!” and on the other hand, “Oh my goodness there’s so much work to do (around the house) how can I possibly just watch a movie!” With work – on one hand, “WOO HOO I get paid in two weeks and LOVE my job!” and on the other hand, “…But I don’t have a desk space yet and feel incredibly lost and unsettled, and maybe I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Two steps forward, one step back.

As I grow, I have been realizing that life throws curveballs (duh). It’s not all rainbows and unicorns, after all *sigh*. There was a time not too long ago (like last week, let’s be honest) when I was all too obsessed with “having my shit together” until I realized… most people don’t! So maybe I’ve let go of that a smidgen, but I still have (high) standards for myself. Like keeping my home clean… It’s just harder when I’m sick and cleaning the dishes leaves me needing a nap. Sometimes I get caught up my growth and progress – I forget that they don’t finalize or complete at some point. There’s always room for growth. As such, I’m learning (again and again) how move at this slower pace and be okay with it. Alas, I’ve just given myself the fanciest manicure I’ve ever attempted (amen for wash tape) and am making my own sticker sheet for my planner. I could get used to this. 😉  Maybe the one step back is a redirection, rather than regression. I haven’t figured out what my redirection is yet, but I’m sure it will appear to me in a dream…or my journal. 🙂

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I’ve always wanted to try this – and now I have! 😀

I am powerful. I am strong. I am tender. I am loved. I am supported.

Shine bright!
Carly

Post graduate school: Reconnecting with strength and bravery.

20160623_070401After a bike ride in a new city, on which I started to feel scared, I felt that I needed to be still and cry, so I did. My boyfriend waited for me and I cried some more on his shoulder after we locked up our bikes and got up to our apartment. This second wave of tears was brought on by facing my fear, the root of these tears. “I don’t want to be scared,” I thought. “But why… because it makes me feel like I’m not good enough…But I have stuff I want to do today…” More tears.

The cry felt good – even better after the second wave – as if I had released something from my body. I’ve been feeling it coming – I almost started crying in my Pure Barre class the other day. This cry released some mixture of fear – fear of failure, fear of death, fear of assault. My hips and neck feel lighter and looser now.

Where is this fear coming from? From where or what are the tears springing from? I expect I’ll be having more of these cries since graduating with my Masters; processing and releasing emotions I haven’t had time nor energy to face during the last three years. Three years of sitting too much, and not stretching nor moving my hips enough. Three years of chronic stress, anxiety, and fear of failure. Three years of moderate to severe neck and back tension. Three years of consistent injuries and bare minimum physical healing. Three years of strengthening my brain and coping skills amidst a high stress environment.

I am healing. These tears are helping me heal. Taking up Pure Barre has helped me to start replacing some of the fear and unsettling feelings with strength and confidence. Riding bikes with my boyfriend today helped me stir up some fear. Three years of therapy have taught me to face, and not fear, my feelings. I expect more of these tears during this time of transition – ending one chapter, and starting many new ones simultaneously. I shed these tears like a snake shedding its skin; emerging as myself, though somehow changed or transformed. I found strength and bravery in my tears today, and that is oh so wonderful.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – If you’re crying it’s because you need to. It’s okay that the tears don’t make sense immediately. It’s okay to let the tears fall and not feel ashamed of them. It’s okay to cry and feel oh so brave.

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Shine Brighter Than The Sun.
xo
Carly

Rape: It’s A Societal Problem & We Are Society

With this recent Brock Turner (Stanford rapist) case and the amount of frustration (among other emotions) I feel… I think it’s time I speak up. I’d like to share my experience with sexual assault and rape culture and what I think we can all do to work together and have constructive compassionate discussions. My hope in sharing this, is to help others understand rape culture and their role in it (whether intentional or not), and to empower myself. This is my story. This is what I think. And I’m here to tell you I matter, just like every other victim.

My Sexual Assault
Rather than “rape” I like to talk about my experience as “Junior.” So henceforth “Junior” will be used instead of the word “rape.” This makes it easier to talk about (for me) and helps me externalize the experience – I am not Junior, Junior is something that affected me. I find naming experiences or emotions also makes them easier to talk about with others.

I was in my fourth year of college when Junior happened. I had gone to someone’s house to study. I was very confused as I started getting all of my school work out to study and this man-child starting touching me rather than getting his school work out. I didn’t understand what was happening and I was scared. He was a very large and strong rugby player. I had a crush on this person at the time but was not interested in being sexual with someone I barely knew. (The crush ended very shortly after my arrival.) We had been on a date previously in which he had also forced his hands on me, though not to this degree. At the time I didn’t know how to say no and only knew I felt gross afterwards. I thought that this was my fault. I thought that’s how dates were supposed to go. I had never been on one before, so I sadly didn’t know better. So fast forward to this experience a couple weeks later and I wasn’t any better equipped for it.
“Don’t you want this dick?” “Am I big enough for you?” “Do you think I’m sexy?” “Come on I really like you, it’s not just a hook up. I really like you.”
No. No. No. I kept saying no and he kept pressuring me. Eventually I gave in because I didn’t think I had another option. I didn’t even dare think of what would happen if I got up to leave, because if my words didn’t stop him, then what would? I was paralyzed by fear and acted in a way that I thought would keep me alive. I laid there until it was done. I said, “You can stop now.” And he finally stopped. I hated this man after this and what’s more – I hated myself. I thought it was my fault. “I should’ve…” Should’ve what? Said “no” 8 more times??  I drifted away from this man and became very angry. He never understood. He had no idea what he had done. He had no idea that he was a rapist. I pushed this memory away for a long time. I kept it hidden until it came out one day with my therapist 2-3 years later.

I am grateful for this experience because I have learned. I have learned to never tolerate that again. I know what to do if I am ever in this situation again. I am grateful for my therapist explaining what consent is. Not saying “no” doesn’t imply “yes.” Giving in without saying “yes” doesn’t imply consent. Feeling that giving in is your only option, that walking away isn’t an option – that’s sexual assault. Feeling that “no” isn’t good enough, and that walking away might get you killed or seriously injured, that’s sexual assault. I used to (and still do) get so angry at men who catcall and judge women based on their appearances. My mom has asked, “Have you been raped? I only ask because you get so angry, I can’t imagine why this topic angers you so.” I always told her no. I didn’t understand that I had been raped. Now I understand. I understand the immense fear I felt that night. I understand why I reacted the way I did. I understand it’s NOT MY FAULT. I understand that I AM NOT THE ONE TO BLAME. I’ve been blaming myself for years. Because I didn’t understand.

Rape looks very different depending on the people, circumstance, presence of alcohol or not… etc. The fact remains: Consent is when you soberly say “yes,” and not because you were too afraid to say “no.”

To this day I fear going out alone at night. I refuse to go to the bathroom alone when I’m out with friends. I walk past large bushes with my hands up, ready to strike if necessary. Over the years I’ve started avoiding parties, meeting new people, skateboarding, going places alone, and going out at night.

I’m so tired of the fear I feel. I’m so tired of the frustration I feel when others say my fear is irrational. I’m so tired of having to protect myself. I keep my eyes on positive things, I don’t let it overtake my life, but I won’t tell you it hasn’t changed how I interact with the world.

So how can we work together to dismantle rape culture?
I’d like to start by addressing some uncomfortable feelings that may arise:
This conversation may be uncomfortable. You will likely feel bad and think “But I didn’t rape anyone” or “I just wanted to keep you safe.” I understand. I know it’s hard. Those feeling and thoughts are human. You did the best you could and I know that. Now it’s time to have the conversation so we can make changes together…even if it’s hard and uncomfortable.

First things first, catcalling is fucking terrifying. I imagine the person following me home and forcing their way into my house. I live in intense fear for the rest of the day. That’s not irrational, it’s an innate fear response to something very real. I understand this man probably doesn’t understand why he’s even yelling out of his window and likely doesn’t intend real harm. THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT OKAY. It’s not coming from a place of kindness and mutual respect. So the next time a friend is upset about something a person (likely male) yelled at or said to her, please know that she likely has very real and rational reasons for being upset. You don’t have to understand it, but do know she/he has reasons for it, and they are rational. Validate those feelings.

Second, compassion will save us. Whether discussing racism, gender, sexual orientation, or rape culture, recognize a person’s experience is THEIR experience. That means it’s not yours to judge. Interpret others’ stories as truth. Imagine for a moment that you are that person, imagine what it must feel like for their story to be true. This may feel uncomfortable, but it is necessary. It is necessary that we try to understand where others are coming from, so that we may find the common humanity within us and work together.

Third, ask what you can do to help. Someone may not want your advice. In fact, they will likely not want it. I’m already going to therapy, making sure that my friends know where I am at all times, and carrying pepper spray. I’m doing everything I can to heal and be a person in this scary and magical world. What I need, truly, is others to change and be open to having this discussion.

I have found that talking about rape culture is similar to talking about racism: people get offended, they act from a place of shame, they get angry and frustrated, they blame others. I hope my experience and these three “tips” can help set you off in the right direction as you embark on a journey to dismantle rape culture. You are powerful. You matter. You have a voice. You have the capacity for compassion. Use these powers for greatness, even if that greatness is “just” a conversation.

Shine Bright,
Carly

Slowing Down for Transitions

I’m officially done with coursework and clinical hours necessary to graduate. I have my exit interview tomorrow and I graduate in exactly one week. My job starts in 4 weeks.

(Side note: To be transparent… I feel silly even writing this… Peggy perfectionist is thinking, ‘People must be thinking, “Oh poor you, you have time off.”‘ BUT ALAS, I know there are others who have experienced this or will be, so I share this knowing it will reach the eyes of someone who finds it helpful. I recognize my perfectionist tendencies for what they are…tendencies only.)

So, I have some time on my hands in the meantime. Has anyone else graduated school (especially graduate school) and then “struggled” (for lack of a better word) with the free time? Trust me, I am grateful for this break, but it took 3-4 days for it to sink in that I’m on break for a bit. I can actually relax and do what what I want (finally!). I don’t have any projects, job interviews, or prep work looming over me as I type this. I can go on Pinterest for hours lurking fun items for my new apartment or watercolor my heart out if I so choose. Quite frankly I’m overwhelmed with the choices and possibilities!

The question to answer: How to accept/manage/deal with this change and upcoming changes?

Well, in order to make this transition and adjustment from school to career life as smooth as possible, I go forth bolstered with some reminders. In my last therapy session on Friday, my therapist asked me, “What do you think the main takeaway from grad school is?” I responded (semi-rambled) and she said, “That was a long takeaway; what if you summed it up one sentence?”

1. Here’s what I’m taking away from grad school:
I know how to take better care of myself and cope with some really challenging people, situations, and feelings (sometimes all at the same time), and I’ve inspired people along the way.

2. We also summed up the takeaway for the last three years of therapy:
Life is complex, so trust yourself and know it’s okay.

SO >>> How do I put these reminders to action or apply them to my life?
Well in terms of starting my job AND moving to a new city, I may expect some bumps and bruises. These will be no match for me however, as I now have the coping skills to manage myself through such bumps. Not so say I’m not a tad anxious, ha! But who wouldn’t be, and I DO have solid skills to fall back on. And in the end, I know there’s a purpose to it… Whether it’s inspiring someone or showing myself I can do it!

Life is complex, so I’m actively reminding myself that there isn’t one right way to things. There really ISN’T anything I MUST do today. So I painted my nails pink. A sheer act of liberation in my eyes as I have been limited to neutral tones over the past 10 months.

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I know these “actions” and applications aren’t very concrete… but life is messy! I hope #1 and #2 provide you with some direction (inspiration if you will) if you are in a similar situation.

xoxo
Shine Bright!!!
Carly

What does it mean to “adult”

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We are all works of art.

My friend, let’s call her Sally, said the other day, “It’s like you’re becoming an adult all at once!”
I agreed with her initially, but now have different interpretations.
1. The current and near future events in my life are typically associated with adulthood, supposedly the reason Sally said that.
2. What does “being/becoming an adult” really mean or entail?

1. I’m moving into a new apartment with my boyfriend in a week and half, graduating with my Masters in Speech-Language Pathology in exactly 2 weeks, and starting a new job (like “adult” career kind of job) 3 weeks after that. Byproducts of these changes involve being financially independent from my parents and budgeting for larger and numerous bills than I have ever paid previously.

2. Let’s break this down
Moving in with a significant other: This seems monumental and serious, but also natural and fun. To use another friend’s words, love is “scary, exciting, vitalizing, and soul-sucking.” This definition may appear extreme, but isn’t love somewhat extreme? I bring this up because love does, and moving in most likely will, bring up new vulnerabilities, life lessons, and deeper self-knowledge and awareness. So does embarking on this journey make me an adult? Perhaps in some ways.
Graduating and getting a job: A lot of teenagers have jobs and they’re not considered adults by larger society, so I’m not sure having a job is prerequisite to being an adult… I don’t think it comes down to what kind of job you have either. I think being financially responsible could be argued as a “more adult” quality. This quality must be learned and often, though not always, results from having a job and managing your own finances. I certainly feel more independent and “adult” just knowing that I will paying for all my own shit in a few months time.

In conclusion, I don’t know if “adult” can be defined. If it’s simply age, well the US government says you’re an adult at 18 years old. I’ve often heard people speak of “having your shit together,” and I don’t think that makes you an adult either, because there are plenty of “adults” who do not have their “shit together.” In my mind, there is no definition of “adult” because there are plentiful and many right ways to be.

And the keys to being involve trusting yourself and accepting ambiguity (a recent common theme in my life). However I’m doing life is how it works for me. I’m not wrong for existing and being myself (and neither are you) because there are many right ways to do and be. As an “adult” I hope to act with kindness, be as responsible as I know how, and continue learning deeply about myself while I maintain my youthful spirit and fresh curiosity for life.

Shine bright!

Carly

but that’s crazy making

DSC03112From LV

Note from a friend: that I think can really be applicable to anyone. She sent me this a while ago… still applicable today.

“Hi Carly! I saw your posts and just wanted to tell you to hang in there! You don’t have to be perfect! That’s something that’s been a struggle for me… I have to realize when I go back, I need to accept just being adequate. But it’s really okay. I think there’s a lot of pressure in our culture to be the best, give it everything you’ve got– but that’s crazy making. You can’t give something your all because humans need balance between work, community, art, etc. Also, society can’t rely on a handful of people being exceptional. We make ourselves better by the majority doing their part to make changes. Maybe there are a few geniuses, like Stephen Hawking, but really, most people are mediocre, and that’s okay. So, it’s good to work hard for your goals, but it’s okay if your goals are less than perfection and they aren’t your whole life.”

“but that’s crazy making” – I love that part. Because it’s so LV, but also true. For the past 8-9 weeks I’ve been striving striving striving to live up the expectations of my supervisor. Constant constructive criticism is challenging for me to cope with. Only recently have I started reflecting on how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished. My friend suggested I write a list of everything I’ve accomplished so far. I read it before I get out of bed before work to pump me up and remind myself that I have knowledge in my brain. I can do this.

This current situation is challenging and I may feel incompetent in this setting, but that does not mean that I myself am incompetent. I am learning. Some learning is fun, some is not. I am not equal to my performance at my internship, though I often get trapped in that thought. I am a whole person, with my own personality, friends and family who love and support me, and I have a life of my own outside of this. I’ve been feeling suffocated by how unhappy I am at work, but I’m coming to recognize (with only a week left here), that it’s okay. It’s okay to be unhappy there. I don’t find it fun, the schedule doesn’t work for me, I know I don’t belong, and I haven’t been able to find a routine that works for me. AND THAT IS OKAY. I don’t want to fit in. I want to belong. I know this won’t last forever. Until it ends, I am reminding myself to live up to my expectations, not my supervisor’s.

The good news is that there is light at the end of the tunnel – I am in love, I’m moving to my dream city, I’m finally going to be done with school… I have been and can continue moving forward, one step at a time. So there’s my semi-stream of thought magic relating to perfection, expectations, and situational depression in unhappy situations.

 

shine on xo