Another mimosa, please.

I spent the long weekend in my favorite place on earth with my favorite people, and I. Am. Exhausted.

Things I learned this weekend:

  1. When you’re out with a friend you don’t get to see very often and you’re ordering wine by the glass, it’s really easy to lose track of how much you’ve had, especially when the bartender has a heavy pour. Then you get the bill and you realize you’ve had a bottle and a half of wine. Each. Whoops.
  2. It has been four and a half years since my last marathon bottomless brunch (an especially memorable visit to Lasagna’s the day of our 5-year college reunion, when they finally kicked us out because the restaurant was flipping over to dinner and apparently that’s when the mimosas stop being bottomless). Turns out 31 is officially too old for bottomless brunch, especially when you approach it as a challenge. “Oh? You’re cutting us off after two hours? I ACCEPT THIS QUEST.” Again. Whoops.
  3. I know a lot of people get into trouble because when they’re drunk they start craving junk food and end up overeating. I am the exact opposite. I completely forgot to feed myself during Saturday’s marathon outing. There were the token breakfast foods consumed alongside the bottomless mimosas, but let’s be honest, those are only there to add an air of legitimacy to the quite frankly inhuman quantities of champagne you’re consuming. And then I forgot to eat anything else. For twelve hours. When we made it to Crif Dogs at 1am I greeted that hot dog like I had never seen food before. Honestly, I’m astounded I didn’t black out in a corner around 4pm. And once again. Whoops.
  4. I decided to stick around the city and drive home on Monday, officially giving “We’re going to watch the debate!” and “Who wants to drive in a hurricane?” as my rationale. The unofficial but very real reason: I fell asleep sitting up at a bar during the Patriots game at 2pm (luckily I remained upright and spared myself the indignity of face-planting into a plate of buffalo wings) and subsequently napped straight through the 4pm games. Driving four hours back to Massachusetts was a non-starter. The drive wasn’t much better on Monday, culminating with me getting pulled over at a toll booth on the Mass Pike (….and getting off with a warning because my last speeding violation was five years ago, almost exactly to the day, also received while on the Mass Pike on a Monday morning driving home from a weekend of NYC ridiculousness – noticing a trend here?) It turns out things that came easily at 24 are just painful at 31. Who knew?

I am in full on recovery mode. I fell asleep at 7pm Monday night after working from home for the afternoon, and I have slept like the dead the past few nights. I’m still dragging myself through my workouts, but I’m definitely not at 100%. And you know what? I don’t regret a single thing. I needed this weekend more than I even realized.

These past few days have really driven home how much your mental state impacts your physical well-being. I’ve been in a pretty dark place for the past month or so; the world has been throwing a lot my way, both at work and at home, and I wasn’t doing a great job of coping and finding balance. It showed up in my attitude, in my energy levels, in my mental health and in my physical well-being. I had no motivation to drag myself to the gym, I wasn’t eating right, I wasn’t treating my body well. I was going through the motions, but I wasn’t happy.

img_3237This weekend, I got to spend time with the types of friends who make you remember who you are and where you belong. Living in another city makes me appreciate these friends so much more when I do get to see them, and every time we get together I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have these people in my life. They’re my human reset buttons. And it’s not like we all sat down to have deep, soul-searching conversations about our lives – quite the opposite. We did multiple rounds of pickle back shots, we sang early 2000s pop-punk karaoke, and we sent ridiculous snap chat stories to the friends who couldn’t be there. But that’s what I need. I need to be reminded that I don’t have to be the responsible one all the time.

My life is so much more than my job and my parents and the myriad things that make me feel stressed and pressured and pushed to go, go, go, 24/7. My life is my stories and my experiences. My life should be filled with ridiculousness and irresponsible decisions and silliness and laughter and hugs and joy. It’s about finding balance and this weekend, with these friends, they helped me to tip the scales back in my favor.

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Self care is not selfish

The one lesson I seem to have to keep learning, over and over and over and over again: If I don’t take care of myself, I can’t be there to take care of other people. It’s not a crime to take time for myself. A thousand other variations on a theme: Self care is not selfish.

It took thirty freaking years for me to start realizing this, and it has really only sunk in over the past year. I most certainly did not arrive here on my own – the friends who are closest to me (those single-name-in-the-cell-phone friends, the OG ride or die team) have been trying to hammer this through my thick skull for years now.

Apparently I haven’t learned my lesson yet.

I won’t get into details here, but it’s been a real fucker of a week. 99% of the time I feel pretty at peace with the universe, and then a week like this happens, and I just have to take a hot second to shake my fist at the sky and wonder if the powers that be are deliberately malicious jerk-faces, or if someone’s just drunk at the wheel. My constant refrain when things like this happen – and they seem to keep happening, again and again and again, with unfair frequency to the people I care most about in this world. We’re told, in trying times, that God only gives us what we can handle. Well, universe, I either need God to have a little less faith in me, or the dude needs to reevaluate his definition of “handling it.” 

Frankly, y’all, for the past week, I haven’t been handling shit.

I had to send my check in to my trainer today, and I almost skipped it, because I have been a trainwreck for the past nine days. I got some bad news, and then a little more piled on top of that, and then just a bit more for good measure, and all that translated to skipping workouts, eating like shit, sleeping terribly, and letting things slide.

And the thing is, I don’t feel any better. Eating cookies and drinking wine after getting shitty news just translates to a shitty workout the next day. Skipping time at the gym just robs me of an hour that I can throw on some loud music, ignore texts and emails and voicemails, and just be with myself and without my thoughts. Nothing shuts up the voices in my head like heavy plates on the barbell for some back squats or deadlifts.

I am realizing that I need to create more space for myself. I need to give myself permission to indulge in the things that bring me joy and help me to remain centered. Those are the first things to go for me – when I drop everything to try to fix things, I just end up hurting myself in the process. And maybe I made a difference in the short term, but I’m perpetuating a terrible habit.

I want to be the best daughter and friend that I can be. And I can’t be that person if I’m not healthy, and strong, and mentally sound, and I can only be all of those things if I give myself permission to put myself first, at least once a day.

Self care isn’t selfish. If I keep learning the lesson whenever things go wrong – and history shows that things will go wrong, because history repeats itself, and my family doesn’t get a magical pass from that, this I guarantee – then maybe, someday, I’ll actually believe it and the lessons will pay off.

Shifting Attitudes

Today’s post stems from a lot of recent experiences – from conversations I’ve had with girlfriends, from how I’ve been feeling myself, and from some articles and blog posts I’ve seen kicking around the internet. It’s certainly not a new topic, and I’m not sure I’m going to cover any new ground here, but here goes nothing. I want to spend some time today reflecting on why we, as women, are so damn hard on ourselves.

Most days, I think I am my own harshest critic. I struggle to just let things go. On days when I can’t make it to the gym, I feel guilty for skipping a workout – even if I had a legitimate reason for being unable to make it to my scheduled classes. When my diet isn’t as healthy as I would like it to be, I condemn myself for making poor decisions.

I know I’m not alone here. I cringe every time I hear my friends criticize themselves. These are smart, talented, successful women. They are funny, compassionate, smart, and engaging people; I enjoy their company and I’m lucky to have them as friends. But despite all of their outstanding qualities, I still hear these women put themselves down. They’re not working out enough; they don’t like what they see in the mirror; they’re unhappy with themselves.

And as if it weren’t enough to battle the voices in our own heads, we also get it from everywhere else. If we do achieve our health and fitness goals, suddenly we’re under attack for becoming obsessed with the gym. I’ve heard friends – healthy, strong, inspiring friends – relay their frustration at being told they’ve gone too far. Don’t be overweight – but don’t lose too much weight, or you’ll hear just as many complaints about your appearance. If you don’t work out, you’re lazy – but if you commit to making the gym a priority in your life, suddenly you’re a bad friend who spends too much time working out.

I’m posting today because I’m sick of it. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been on track this month – and that’s okay. My weight’s gone up a few pounds, I’ve had to miss a lot of classes, and I haven’t prioritized food prep. It would be really easy to look at these past few weeks and see all the things I could have done differently, and to criticize myself for that. Instead, I’m choosing to concentrate on the positives. I didn’t grocery shop or meal prep this weekend because I decided to take some time to spend with friends, and the quality time I spent with them meant more for my health than any of the nutritious meals I would have prepared in my slow cooker. I had to cancel my gym classes this week because I had to have a mole removed to test for melanoma, but I’m not going to be upset about that. I’m prioritizing my long term health, and letting the biopsy site heal cleanly is more important than squeezing in a barre class.

I shouldn’t need to make excuses. I should be able to be at peace with myself, whatever version of myself I’m presenting on any given day. I want to feel as confident on my best days as I do on my worst. I want to silence the voice in my head that spreads doubt, and guilt, and leads me to question my every move. Basically, I want to get to the point that this is my inner monologue, 24/7:

So, I’m challenging myself to create a new habit. Every morning, I’ll set a positive intention for the day – something I’m doing that day for myself, for the pleasure of doing it, not for any other reason. And every night, before going to bed, I’ll reflect on at least one positive thing that happened that day. So as not to overcrowd the blog, I’ll be posting these intentions on my tumblr page. I’ll include a digest of my week’s reflections as part of my Friday roundup.

Do you ever feel like you’re too hard on yourself? Care to join me on this journey? Let me know how you’ll be logging your intentions and reflections – if you’re doing so electronically, share the link in the comments!