Proceed Anyway

When I first experienced bullying in middle school, I sought my dad for advice. He told me to focus on my studies, ignore them, laugh in the face of criticism (that will throw them for a loop, he said, and it did) and above all, never doubt myself and keep on going.

A few months ago, my life took a sour turn. Every week I learned of news that would inevitably upend my personal and professional paths. How much worse could it get? And then, it got worse, so much so I felt I had become an expert at grieving.

Each week, I processed a new set of emotions – some for the loss of things and some for the emptiness that loss left behind. I was tired of being sad. So, one day, I came home from work, made myself a martini and started dancing and laughing in the kitchen. Take that life bully. If I had seemingly lost everything, then it meant I had nothing to lose and therefore could do whatever I wanted. My foundation was crumbling but that just meant I could build something new. Continue reading

Have Some Self-Compassion This January

January has always been a difficult month for me. With less sun and warm days and days off to look forward to, it’s easy to fall into a depressed state. I’ve been sleeping a lot more, and I have less energy to do the things I love.

The difference this year is I acknowledge it’s January (so simple, right?), and I know where my lack of energy is stemming from. For the next three weeks of the month, now that I’ve recovered from the holidays, I am making a commitment to write every day (not necessarily on this blog). It doesn’t have to be much — yesterday, I wrote two sentences — and it can take the form of any medium.

But I hope by making this commitment to myself, I can keep the winter blues at bay and find some fulfillment on the most challenging days. Sometimes, a little self-compassion and confidence can go a long way.

A few months ago, I was feeling a bit lost on my personal and professional paths. I was being particularly hard on myself for getting wrapped up in what I called “failed initiatives.” I had put myself out there, and I felt rejected. So, taking a cue from Dr. Kristin Neff, a pioneer when it comes to self-compassion (she wrote the book on it), I wrote a letter to myself, from the perspective of a close friend (I’ve included an excerpt below). Continue reading

Never Apologize For…

How you feel

Who you love

Who you are

Words of wisdom from a good friend of mine.

This past month, I have been struggling to keep the depression and anxiety at bay, but there is a sadness quietly overtaking me. I can’t pinpoint any one direct cause, but certain circumstances have destroyed my spirit time and time again. Just when I think I have built up enough resilience to conquer another day, another stumbling block takes me down.

I feel way too much. When I see others hurting, it hurts me, too. And I am seeing so many hurting right now (myself included). I try to focus on the small successes. Just last month, I visited my endocrinologist and learned I had decreased my A1C (average blood sugar levels over the past three months) by phenomenal measures. It’s crazy to think that when I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I had an A1C of 16.0 (that’s not functional, by the way), and now I have an A1C of 5.8. Continue reading

I’m Burnt Out

I’m finally on vacation. I should be excited, right? I was certainly excited leading up to this week. But right now? I’m burnt out.

Ever since I entered the professional 9-5 realm almost a decade ago, I haven’t had more than 10 days of paid vacation per year (and some years, I didn’t even have that). It’s a luxury — paid vacation. But as someone whose independent nature lends itself to a career of freedom and autonomy, the structure of the 9-5 can be a struggle. I mostly stick with it for the benefits (so far, it’s been the only way I can afford my diabetes).

But some things happened this past week that made me question how I’m spending the majority of my time and whether I am actually on a path to self-fulfillment. And then I realized just how exhausted I am from all the pressure — pressure from my body (diabetes), my bank account, my career, my relationships, etc. I know that I will be leaving in a few days to a mountain getaway, free from worldly distractions. Yet, I feel I am losing momentum and motivation. Continue reading

It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better

This past weekend, by all accounts, should have been a wonderful weekend. And in many ways, it was. I spent some quality time with cool friends, and I met some even cooler people. I finally visited the Big Apple and learned that Broadway is a street, not a place (this one may haunt me for a while).

new-york-city-skyscrapers

But while I was gallivanting through New York City completely overwhelmed yet in awe of Central Park, Times Square and the darkness of the skyscrapers, others were hurting. On Sunday, I received some heartbreaking news, and out of respect for the parties involved, I will not disclose here. But needless to say, it’s the kind of news that brings someone like me to tears on the spot.

And on that same day, a woman at a gas station banged a bathroom door into my head (on accident, of course, but it hurt like hell – I still have a tender bruise). The weather was raining and overcast, and we were at the beach. Mother Nature couldn’t have been crueler (okay, I suppose a hurricane would have done it). My blood sugar levels were all over the place — from severe highs to severe lows.

Physically, I felt depleted and weak. Emotionally, I was hurting. And I was fortunate I was surrounded by such amazing people who let me process my emotions in my own time and even acknowledge that while I wanted to blame myself, I had done my best to be the most supportive friend I could be, and that was enough. When I returned to the sunny skies of DC on Monday, I received more bad news. Continue reading

Practicing the Art of Nothing

When I was a little girl, I loved car rides. This was before I met Motion Sickness. My family used to take vacations in the summer, and we drove to our destination whether that be the six-hour ride to Smoky Mountains or the 14-hour trek to Disney World.

My dad played Golden Oldie’s from the radio or Disney tunes on cassette. My mom would drive, my dad would film, and my brother and I would be content in the backseat. I was overwhelmed by the imagery. I loved following the different shapes and colors of the trees, watching the yellow lines on the road become one and taking in all the makes and models of other vehicles on the highway.

I could sit for hours in silence, feeling the fresh air and letting the music provide a backdrop for whatever story I dreamed up. I gave those trees a soul, and while I didn’t know who else traveled on the roads with us, I somehow felt connected to them. I used my imagination to give them their own stories. It was where my creative spirit was born.

So why, as an adult, is it so hard for me to sit back and do nothing? Why can’t I just remain still for a moment and relish the world going by? Continue reading

I Tricked My Depression Into Becoming a Morning Person

Last weekend, while thousands marched for science in DC, I met up with a longtime friend for the annual Howard County GreenFest. And while watching a documentary on the plight of migratory birds did not aid in my feelings of hopelessness and helplessness (although I highly recommend the film), meeting up with my friend gave me some perspective.

She’s the one who originally encouraged me to write about my struggles with diabetes and insurance coverage. She’s the one who introduced me to my first book producing gig and a mentor who is still having a profound impact on me post-mortem. And when I summed up the indifference I felt towards my current life, she gave me hope.

“It seems like what you need right now is to feel empowered in your daily life,” she said to me over lunch at David’s Natural Market in Columbia.

Empowered.

But when I feel so distraught and useless and anxious about the current political climate, how do I change circumstances outside of my control in order to feel empowered again? Continue reading