Tag Archives: strengths

Pissy rant ahead

17 Nov

Pissy rant ahead. But hang on til the end.

I’ve been in a horrible funk the last two weeks. I read blogs like “Hyperbole and a Half“, “The Bloggess” and Wil Wheaton’s, and I admire how open they can be about their struggles with mental illnesses. And I think we should all be that open about it. But I still want to hide that part of myself. I hate that part. I hate that my brain is wired for that. I’ve come to accept that I’ll never be cured of it. All I can do is try to manage it when it flares up.

Mine shows up as anxiety. I’ve learned A LOT over the last seven years or so how to cope with it and how to have less of it. Those of you who knew me 10 years ago can attest to that. But I still have it. Usually, I can tell what has triggered the latest episode. Then if I deal with the trigger, the anxiety goes away.

Sometimes, it takes a while for me to be able to figure out and deal with the trigger. Until then, the anxiety shows up as a lack of confidence in myself and in my value and worth to the world. Then it starts showing up as losing my sense of humor, making poor eating choices, and not being active.

A few weeks ago, I noticed an episode was starting. And I (still) have no idea what triggered it. And it slid down the slope so quickly, I never had a chance to catch it.

And it’s been awful. I had a long talk with a friend of mine about a week ago, and he was trying to help me figure it out and pull me out of it. God bless him. But nothing worked. But while talking to him, I heard myself saying things about how I hated being this person, I hate being around this person so how can I ask anyone else to be around me, nothing I do matters, I don’t know how I can contribute anything, blah blah blah. SIGH.

So here I was yesterday, still in a funk, still feeling anxious. I slept about 3 hours Friday night (I love it when my old friend insomnia comes back). I’ve had a ball of knots in my stomach for about a week. I’ve been unable to stop eating crappy food – way too much sugar consumed lately. And all I could think about was what was wrong in my life.

I kept mentally going over the list…

I’m overweight
My foot still bothers me sometimes where I broke it
I don’t have enough money
I’m tired
My cardio stamina has not come back fully from my foot and my bronchitis
Who would want to hang out with me really?
I have nothing to offer anyone

And it spirals from there.

Now, the rational part of my brain knows this is not true. It knows that there are lots of things I can offer. But as the Bloggess says, depression (or anxiety) lies. Your brain tries to tell you differently, and it’s wired to believe it.

So yesterday, I had a dance lesson first thing. I went to it exhausted and drained and anxious. (Thankfully not anxious about my dancing.) It was an OK lesson. My teacher and I got a bit short with each other, mainly because I was pissy. Which made my responses to what he was saying be short. And he was trying to pull me out of it by giving me a kick in the pants. Which sadly this time did not help me. So I was getting more and more frustrated with myself. Not thinky. Just frustrated about being THIS PERSON on my lesson and in my life. And wanting to get over it but not knowing how because all the tricks I have weren’t working.

I left the studio and was going to go to the gym. I got into my car and immediately burst into tears because I was so frustrated with myself. But also, I clearly needed to process something. I’m still not sure what. So I cried in my car for about 10 minutes. Once I stopped crying, I decided that I was too tired and emotional to go workout. Probably not the right decision but this is what anxiety does to me. Instead, I decided to be a productive member of society and run a crap ton of errands.

Then I had about an hour to kill before group class. The only reason I went to group class was because I knew my friend CS was going to go, and we usually have lunch afterwards. I knew it’d be good to hang out with her, so I knew I would go to group class. To kill time beforehand, I went to my favorite coffee shop. I finished reading the book for book club next week. Then I had about 20 minutes to kill.

Then I thought about this blog I follow. I think the author writes to remember the good times in life, not the bad. Maybe I’ve been doing the opposite and have been focusing on the bad and the negative. I am Irish after all. So what if I deliberately tried to focus on the good things?

So I decided to start a list. Brainstorm what is good in my life…physical, emotional, talents, gifts, anything positive. No censoring except for censoring out the bad and the negative. Just write.

So I did. And you know what? I had two things on it: I have great hair (yes, I’m vain about it, it’s the only thing I’m vain about) and I can dance.

Again, I know there are a lot more things. That’s just how deep the anxiety hole is right now – I can’t even see the rest.

So I went to group, which was fine. Then me and CS went to lunch with her husband MS and our friends SH and SH. And it was actually a fun lunch. I started to enjoy myself a bit, which I haven’t been able to do much recently. Then we split off for the day. I had an appointment to have my hair colored. So I went to the awesome Jennifer, and she colored it. I love seeing her for my hair. She pushes me to try new things but in a very gentle way because she knows me. I enjoy chatting with her. And she makes me feel beautiful. This time, she added slightly more red to the color. And when she dried it, she curled my hair. So I had fancy hair, which made me feel so good.

Then I met SP for dinner. She really wanted a doughnut, but we couldn’t find parking near Glam Doll. So we ended up at Butter, and I could feel myself relaxing more and more the more we talked. I got to hear all about her most recent trip, we talked a little about my issue the last few weeks, and then we just caught up. I always have a good time with her! Afterwards I needed groceries and she did too, so we went grocery shopping together. And we ended up making fun of so much stuff in the store. Like the Barbies. And the Twister Skip game. And trying to find window insulating kits. Which we walked by about 3 times before we asked someone for help. And the how to speak Wookie toy. And the sandwich post-it notes. And the Christmas music samplers. Oh good, we laughed for about 30 minutes straight, I think.

And by the end of the day, after crying a little and seeing Jennifer who made me feel pretty and laughing with SP, I felt so much better. I slept all night and have had a productive day so far today. Laundry’s done (almost), food is made for next week, bills are paid. I still have a little knot in my stomach. But I’m hoping I can cling to how I felt last night and this morning, and just keep building on that.

Because I hate being the anxious insecure person. And I want to be who I normally am now. And I will fight to get back there.

Because Showcase is next weekend!!! And I’m ready for it. And I will ROCK IT.

I saw this on Facebook on Friday and need to have a giant version of this framed:

Don't stand in your way

Because really, I am and I do. And I need to get out of my own way.

Looking in the mirror again.

12 Nov

People have been holding up the mirror for me again. I’ve talked about that before, and before, and before, and before. (Apparently this is a recurring thing for me.) I’m always shocked by how others see me.

For instance, I’ve been called “disciplined” about 3 times in the last month. Which is intriguing. Because to me, discipline is a negative. It means rigid, controlling, this…


But clearly these people meant it as a compliment. Typical me, I can tell you exactly where I’m not disciplined. In case you’re wondering, it’s diet, exercise, and dance homework. But these people have helped me see that I am disciplined. I do eat fairly well for the most part. (Don’t look at last week though.) I do work out at least 3 times a week. (Let’s ignore last week on that.) I do practice dance on my own, maybe not as often as I would like. I do laundry every Sunday. I make food for the following week on Sundays. I pay my bills and track my expenses every weekend. So I am disciplined, but in a good way.

I was told today that I’m beautiful. Now, that one is difficult. Because I know I’m not beautiful. (Which sounds totally narcissistic or that I’m fishing for compliments – neither of which is the case.) And again, being me, I can tell you in what ways I’m not. (See my nose and my weight around the middle. And my height.) But the fact that someone thinks that I might be beautiful? And this is not the first person to tell me that. It does not compute in my poor little brain. Because yes, I still see myself like this…


But having someone point out that I might be considered beautiful? Makes me think about what my good assets are, and makes me realize there are some. And how someone might actually think I’m cute.



The one-month freakout

28 Oct

So you know how some people freak out when they have to perform? You know…the day of, they’re a nervous wreck. You know that’s not me. I love to perform, and the day of a performance, I’m calm and confident. I don’t need a lot of attention from my teacher that day. I don’t go to the thinky place at all. I know on those days that I GOT THIS.

I freak out about 4 weeks beforehand. And guess what? Showcase is in a month.

I’ve been thinking the last few days about how we need to fix this spot in this open or work on that in closed. The list I have in my brain on what needs to be done before Showcase seems overwhelming. So much to work on and fix to get it ready to perform in a month! Gah! I start counting how many lessons I have left between now and then. (Seven, if you want to know.)

Then I immediately tell myself that it’s a month away, this is my normal freakout, and my teacher will make sure it’s all good to go. Yes, there are things I can work on when I practice. In my lesson Saturday, I asked my teacher to give me that list so I could actually write it down. And I did write it down, which helped.

I keep reminding myself that I’ve been here before. And each time, it all comes together, and I rock it on the day of performance. And I’ll continue to have faith in myself and in my teacher who will make sure it’s great by then.

But it’s one month away!

It’s been four years

22 Oct

Today is my dance anniversary. Four years ago, I walked into the dance studio for the first time…and changed my life.


I still don’t have the words to express how much it’s changed me and my life.dancers I’ve tried here and here, but I’m still not sure that it really captures what dancing has done for me. I’m grateful for the friends I’ve made. I’m grateful for the changes I’ve made in me because of dance and how far I’ve come. And I’m so grateful for my very patient, very awesome teacher who’s helped me through some challenging moments.

And I think I’m MAYBE starting to really believe in myself and my ability. Most days, I really feel like a great dancer.

I’m thankful to have found my passion and my joy and my talent. I can’t imagine my life without dancing!

I know that a day from now, I’ll look at this post and want to rewrite it. But I still won’t have the words. Just know that it really changed my life and who I am for the better, and that means so much to me. Dancing is something that I now have to do, and it brings me so much joy and happiness.

And I still thank God every day that I took that first step into the studio four years ago.

Happy dance!!

Body image is relative

5 Aug

Body image is a fascinating thing to me.

Because of the city I grew up in, and having poor self-esteem for so long, I tend to be very critical of how I look. My body shape. And the extra bit of fat around my middle. And I’ve talked about that before. But it has gotten better over the last few years. Mainly I think because I’ve lost a few pounds, but I’ve gained muscle, and I know now that I will never look thin because of my curves. Which is an OK reason to not look thin. And of course, dance has given me self-confidence which helps.

But I’ve noticed lately that body image is a relative thing.

I work at a large public university. Large public universities are notorious for staff bringing in food to share or leftovers from lunch meetings being made available in the break room. As a result, I’ve noticed that most women to work there are overweight – more overweight than I am. (This does not apply to development officers. They’re like pharmaceutical reps if you know what I mean.) So when I’m at work, I don’t feel short, and I don’t feel fat. I don’t think I look quite like this…


…but more like how I actually look probably.

But then I get to the dance studio or the gym. I think the mirrors at the studio are warped. In both places, I feel very short and fat.


This is fascinating to me. Why does where I am impact me about how I think I look so much? And how can I carry how I feel at work to the rest of my life?

I wonder how much of it goes back to confidence. I am very confident in my work – I know I’m good at what I do. And I’ve known that for a long time. Work is probably the place I feel the most confident. Except for the dance floor at Showcase. Hmm, I’m just making this connection as I write. So it all comes back to confidence. So is it all a matter of faking it to make it? If I act confident, regardless of whether I am or not, will I feel better about my body shape?

Interesting thoughts to ponder. But it’s far too late to ponder tonight. But knowing me, I’ll ponder this a lot. Of course, I’ve probably given this way too much thought as it is. I’m just interested in getting past this body shape issue I have.

Let me know if you have any thoughts!


The real goal

24 Feb

Remember when I was talking about goals a few weeks ago? And I said that my dance goal was to be the best dancer I could be?

I lied.

But to be fair, I didn’t realize I was lying. Well, I knew it when I wrote that, but I hadn’t realized it for the three years prior to that.

Still with me? Good.

You see, I sat down with my teacher shortly after the holidays. I wanted to talk about our goals, mainly to make sure we were on the same page but also to understand where he’s coming from in terms of teaching. I never second-guess him, I completely trust him, but sometimes I just need to understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.

And he said that he had finally figured it out: In putting together all the things I have said over the years, what he thought I was saying was not that I wanted to be the best dancer I could be, but to be the best dancer. Period.

My reaction when he said that? A huge internal recoil. No, no, no, I can’t possibly have meant that!

Hmm, where did that recoil come from? It took me a while (and some professional help) to figure it out. And I won’t bore you with all that.

But in the end…he’s right.

Damn. I hate it when he’s right.

Now, “the best dancer” is really unattainable. You will never NEVER be the best at everything every day all the time in dance. Everyone has off days. And even if you don’t have an off day, you may have a judge that is just looking for something different than how you dance.

So I had to adjust the goal in my head a bit to make it reachable. Reword it, really.

But at the end of the day?

Yep, I want to be the best dancer. THE BEST ONE.

And I’ll tell you…embracing this (or at least not recoiling on it) has changed how I’m learning in lessons. Even before the conversation, my teacher had changed how he teaches me a bit too because of his interpretation of the goal. And my progress has been HUGE. And now it’s an upward spiral…my lessons are going well, I’m learning a lot, so I’m motivated to do homework, which makes my lessons better etc etc etc.

And it’s FANTASTIC. And makes me so happy.


Daily post: Flawed

28 Dec

The daily post challenge from a few days (weeks?) ago: What is your worst quality?

Oh boy. That’s a hard one to answer because have you met me? It’s hard to pick just one!

Some of them: a little too much OCD (although I’ve learned to back off and not impose it on others), a quick temper (again, I’ve learned to manage that one), insecurity (ditto)…

And it’s hard to distinguish a flaw vs a challenge. Like leaving my comfort zone can be a challenge, but is that a flaw?

I think my biggest flaw, though, is having high standards for myself and a not-always-realistic timeframe for achieving them. High standards are fine. But I tend to beat myself up if I feel like I’m not meeting them. This shows up in dance A LOT. My teacher has become excellent at trying to manage expectations when we’re working on something new. But I still tend to get upset with myself if I don’t pick it up quickly. Which is hard to do because, as he says, the days of easy fixes are gone.

It shows up at work too. I get angry with myself if I make a mistake on a report. My boss tends to laugh at this, because my reaction is so disproportionate to the error. And I’m usually the one to catch the error!

Remember McKayla?


She made that face because she was disgusted with her performance. She didn’t meet her standards for herself. I feel her pain. I make that face, but not on the outside.

But luckily, for the last few years, I’ve been aware of this flaw in myself. So I have lots of tools and self-talk to counter it. And most of the time, I remember to use them.

Most of the time.

Other people’s mirrors

27 Oct

You know how you go along in life, seeing yourself as you see yourself, thinking the world sees you the same way? Then with a random comment, a friend shows you how they see you, and it’s totally different? That happened to me yesterday.

I had dinner with my friend MH yesterday. We were talking about books and movies, and suddenly she says to me, “You’re such a well-rounded person. That’s so cool.”


I’m not sure exactly what she meant, and I wish I had asked her. I don’t considered myself well-rounded, but I guess she does. And it really made me stop and think…maybe I am?

Third dance anniversary

22 Oct

Today is my dance anniversary. Three years ago, I walked into the dance studio for the first time and changed my life.

Here’s what I wrote last year about it. Go read it and then come back.

I reread that today, wondering what had changed in the last year. And you know what? Not much. Amy and Rachel are no longer at my studio, and I miss them. And I did add bolero and mambo. But my experience is still the same. The staff is great, and my teacher is the best. I’m so lucky to have found my passion, found my talent, and have such a supportive, amazing teacher to help me on this journey.

Yep, still one of the best decisions I ever made. I’m so much happier now; I can’t imagine who I would be if I hadn’t started to dance. Dancing has allowed me to work through some significant issues and overcome them.

Thank God I started dancing. It really did save me in a lot of ways. And I’m good at it. And it brings me joy and makes me happy. And I really can’t ask for much more, can I?

I’m cured

21 Sep

I saw my therapist recently. It’s been a while; between her schedule and mine, we’ve had difficulty finding a time to meet.

So when I saw her, I updated her on what had happened in my life. And it turns out, I was able to deal with a lot of the things that came up on my own without her guidance.

Case in point: Dance-O-Rama. Huge emotional tailspin after that event. But I was able to reach my own conclusion and pull myself out of it. (Which, by the way, was apparently a very large deal.)

Another case in point: One of the first things I went to her about was anxiety. And going outside my comfort zone. And recently I ran a 5K with obstacles without even talking to her about it until after the fact. I dealt with it on my own. I still have anxiety about going outside my comfort zone, but it is no longer a barrier to me doing things.

We were recalling all the issues I had brought in to her originally, and laughing about how far I’ve come.

Yes, I still have anxieties. Yes, I still have down days. But overall, I am much better able to deal with these things as they come up. I’ve learned. I got tools. I feel like I can take on anything in these areas.

I still have a few little issues I’ll keep seeing her for. And I’ll use her when big issues come up. But it was so nice to realize and hear how far I’ve come, and how good I am at dealing with things on my own.

I say I’m cured but in a humorous way. Personally I’m not sure anyone is really ever cured. You just learn to deal with your baggage so that it doesn’t really impact your life.

(That cracks me up.)

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