Tag Archives: anxiety

screw off to-do list.

4 Apr


Yesterday I had a conversation with a family member who reached out to me in response to my posts about anxiety. She shared personal stories with me about bouts of anxiety she’s had from time to time and how she’s dealt with them. It was a lovely, thoughtful and enlightening call. I appreciated every single word of what she shared. During our talk she said something that really resonated with me-

“Honey, you can have it all…just not at the same time.

Truth is, I do want it all. I’ve always wanted it all. I’m quite possibly even a perfectionist. Currently, I want…the perfect wedding. I want to be an amazing partner to Brian everyday. I want to sell my book. I want to blog everyday. I want to write for my favorite sites every week. I want my career as a writer to keep growing while also focusing on my business as a fit model. I want to be there for my friends & family when they need me. I want to practice yoga or workout everyday. I want to do things that inspire me (like ballet classes and artists dates). I want to cook Sunday night dinners. I want to do everything.

Most importantly I want to see movement everyday. The kind that I can track. And when I don’t or I fail at crossing things off my to-do list, I’m pretty damn hard on myself. No wonder I feel anxious! I’m constantly riding myself.

It was an important realization for me about myself.

As it usually goes I was given a little test by the universe on “lightning up” soon after. I got home from a day of fittings and my nearest and dearest friend Rachel came over for a visit and to talk over our upcoming engagement shoot this weekend. Rachel is an insanely talented photographer and when I was thinking about who should shoot our engagement photos she was the only person I wanted.

When she walked in the door I could tell she had had a crap day.  I offered her something to drink…diet coke, water, ice tea? And she said, “how about a glass of wine?”

I looked at the clock. It was 4pm. I immediately thought of my to-do list. I wanted to finish a new piece for Mind Body Green. I had my bar method class at 5. I wanted to get to the market to get salmon for dinner. I had to do a bunch of invoices. I needed to order our save the dates….blah blah blah. But instead of be ruled by my to-do list I said, “Sure!” And guess what happened?? We had an amazing few hours sitting around talking about life, love, marriage, work, family and everything in between while drinking wine. It was the kind of afternoon I will remember for a long time and it was much more full-filling than my bar method class or Gelsons.

My first exercise in being kinder to myself, staying in the moment and saying “screw-off” to my extensive to-do list was a complete success!


“That’s the key to having it all: stop expecting it to look like what you thought it was going to look like.”
Cindy Chupack




2 Apr


Monday was a particularly anxious day. Not impossibly hard, believe me I’ve had worse but still an “off” day. It started off just fine. Strangely enough I find myself more anxious in the afternoons. I still haven’t been able to figure that one out. By the time I got home from work around 5pm all I wanted to do was crawl in bed with a cup of tea and be done with the day. But I had an acupuncture appointment at 6pm and I decided it would have been rude to cancel on her so late.

I also realized how crazy my thinking was. I mean, I go to acupuncture for my issues with anxiety and now I wanted to skip out on the appointment because of my anxiety? Silliness. With that I dragged myself out of the house and down the street to Yo San. I walked in the office, checked in and waited patiently for my name to be called. Why was it so hot in here? Stuffy actually. Huh, nobody else seems hot. That woman is even drinking tea.  I peeled off my sweatshirt and took a sip of my cold water. A few minutes later my acupuncturist called my name.

She led me to the same room she does every week and she asked me the same questions she does every week.

How was my week? Have I been feeling better of worse after last weeks session? Any changes in sleep? Anxiety? Night sweats? Was I on my cycle? Did I feel any changes with the new herbs I was taking? 

I told her that overall I felt much calmer this week (because really I have!) although I was having an anxious day for no apparent reason. She took my pulse. Looked at my tongue. Asked me a few more questions and decided that we would do the same points we did last time but add in a few extra for calmness.

She left the room while I undressed, put on the robe and laid down on the table. My head was moving at a million miles an hour. The thoughts moved so quickly. One leading me to the next in a millisecond. I couldn’t stop running through my day. My heart felt fast and I felt hot. I thought about the weekend. It was filled with so many activities. Each one I enjoyed but I was more exhausted by everything then relaxed by it. I hate when that happens. Maybe that’s why today felt hard? I didn’t have any quiet time the last few days and I’m horrible with out quiet time. I really have to make a point of carving out time for myself and putting what I need first sometimes. It’s ok to do that, right? I need to learn how to say no. I need to set better boundaries. I thought about an upsetting phone call I had over the weekend and began to feel more wound up. I hadn’t really addressed the conversation yet. Maybe that’s why I was feeling anxious. That call hurt my feelings. Did I put the check in the mail for the wedding planner? I think I did. I hope I did because then I don’t know where I put it. I need to write tonight. I had no time to write this weekend. Maybe that’s why I feel off?

Faint music played in the background. I hadn’t even noticed it before. I figured it was supposed to be relaxing, so I tried to tune out the noise in my head and listen to the music.

My acupuncturist walked in. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. She began to softly place the needles in various parts of my body; between my eyes, on my ears, on my skull, between my knuckles, on my hands, my wrists, my legs, feet and toes. Once they were all in she turned off the lights and left me alone to lie there for what usually ends up being 40 minutes. I took another deep breath and settled into my body. I stared at the wall ahead of me. The sun was setting and warm light poured through the holes in the blinds, making what looked like a bunch of strings of pearls on the wall. I smiled. How pretty. I listened to my breath. My breathing slowed. There was nothing else to do or figure out in that moment. I could just be. I felt a wave of gratitude sweep through me. I simply watched the sunlight dance against the wall. My head had finally stopped running.

I had finally surrendered to the moment. 


“Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.”
Walt Whitman

grateful for you

21 Mar


Dear Readers,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warm, thoughtful, enlightening and honest comments to my post about my issues with anxiety. I was truly overwhelmed by the response. It was very difficult for me to write about something so personal that I am also embarrassed about. The morning I posted it, I spent a good twenty minutes going back and forth with myself before hitting “publish”. Once I finally did, and it was out into the open, I felt relieved. It felt good to be the authentic & messy me. Now you all know my dirty little secret and after reading all of your comments, I know that I don’t suffer alone.

We’re all a work in progress, huh? And this living thing can get a bit messy and confusing sometimes.

I was telling Maggi, my life coach about how touched I was by the feedback the piece received and she reminded me of something that was rather painful for me to hear as a writer- that up until “The Cloak”, I haven’t been sharing as deeply as I used to in my posts these past few months.  At first, I scoffed at this and pointed out a few posts here and there that I did but I knew that she spoke the truth. Totally annoying when that happens, huh?

I used to let it alllllll hang out here. But these last few months have been so difficult for me that I just couldn’t go there. I mean it’s taken all my might to just make it through the day with my anxiety, the stress and joy of planning a wedding, buying our first home, worrying about the future, building my career and showing up for my family, friends and partner. I was scared that if I stood still long enough to describe the tornado to all of you, while I was standing in the friggin center of the tornado, I would be swallowed up.

Does that make sense?

So instead, I decided to focus on the little joys in life like nesting, cooking Sunday night dinners for family, creating a new office space and going on artist dates with myself. It helped keep me somewhat sane in these anxious times. I can’t be heavy every day, ya know? Also, part of me didn’t want to seem ungrateful. When I started this blog my life was in the shitter. I was broke, confused about my career, supplementing my freelance income with nannying (which was truly painful activity- I could write a whole book about that year), depressed and single. In a little under two years my life looks completely different. I am getting married to the man of my dreams, my writing career has enjoyed many great highs and advancements (even if I am still want more), I’m not stressed about money, we are proud new owners of a loft that I swear looks exactly like the images on my vision board and I’m generally a very happy person.

I got everything I wanted these last two years.

I was afraid that if I told you how off I was feeling you guys would think I was nuts, negative or ungrateful.

But then I thought, maybe that’s it. Maybe getting everything you want also comes with a price and being a woman in your thirties is hard to navigate. The stakes are different from being a woman in your twenties. I doubt I’m alone in feeling this. So I decided it was time to share about my fears and anxieties and curl up on the couch on a rainy Wednesday afternoon and write from the most honest place I could.

I am so very honored that you guys responded with such love and I am grateful for each one of you.

Thank you for being on this journey with me and thanks for again reminding me that I am not alone.




the cloak

13 Mar


I’ve alluded here to the fact that I suffer from anxiety from time to time, but I’ve never really been brave enough to let it all out. It feels like my little dark secret and I think I am a bit ashamed of it. Recently I’ve learned that a few people I know deal with it as well and I thought…why not just talk about it! Why keep it a little secret? Of course talking about it in a public way gives me a bit of anxiety, but here goes!

I would have liked to think that I would be the type of person who wouldn’t know a thing about anxiety. I practice yoga. I have a pretty solid spiritual practice. I have faith in something bigger than me. I don’t call it God but I know there is something at work behind the scenes. Why then, do worry that the ground is about to crumble beneath me?

It comes when I least expect it too, suddenly strangling me out of nowhere and leaving me gasping for air.

It feels as if I have a dark and heavy cloak around my neck. It robs me of joy. It robs me of the moment. It takes the fun out of the unknown factor of life and you know what?

I am so fucking sick of it.

When I look at my life right now I can’t help but feel grateful. It’s better than it’s ever been. I have an incredible loving and supportive partner who will become my husband in eight months, a solid freelance income, a great family, the truest friends a girl could have, creative projects that inspire me, a new loft by the beach and I am healthy.

What the hell do I have to worry about, right?

But that’s the funny thing. It seems that when everything is too good to be true, I suffer the most.

So much to lose.

My anxiety-ridden mind turns all those lovely, happy and amazing things into…what if my freelance income stops being so good? What would I do about all my bills? What if I can’t be the wife I hope to be to Brian? What if the wedding doesn’t come together? What if my creative projects never come to fruition? What a mind crushing disappointment that would be. Will I just be a fit model forever? When will my real career start? What if? What if? What if?

I worry about everything. From the morning traffic to where my life will be in five years. Worry is my constant companion.

I wasn’t always this way. I was once a complete free spirit.  I didn’t feel alive unless I was acting a bit reckless and pushing the envelope.

My first full-blown anxiety attack came at twenty-five. Up until then life had always been pretty sweet to me. I believed that “life was a daring adventure or nothing at all”. I lived and breathed that motto. That motto was made for me. But suddenly the very phrase that I lived my life by scared the living shit out of me.

It stopped working for me.

I was on vacation in Chicago, with the man I was seeing at the time.  We were eating lunch in a very fancy room at the Peninsula hotel. Life was good. It was seemingly very good. But something felt off. Something below the surface felt as if it was cracking.

I wanted the universe to tell me that everything was going to work out the way I hoped. I wanted reassurance. I wanted to know everything would be ok in the end. I wanted to know my life would shake out the way I hoped. I wanted to know that all my hard work would pay off. I wanted concrete answers. I was tired of letting the wind take me wherever it pleased.

Was my life where it was supposed to be? Was being with him the right choice? Was becoming his wife and moving to St. Thomas at twenty-five a catastrophic mistake?

I sat there quietly eating my wedge salad, mulling over my thoughts when suddenly the grandiose room began to feel as if it was shrinking. I felt as if I was on fire. I began to see spots and felt incredibly  dizzy. I felt hyper aware of everything, the way the china clanked as people set it down, the way my palms began to sweat, the way my boyfriend looked at me with concern, the way my hands began to tremble. I felt exposed. I felt unsure. I felt unsafe. Life suddenly became so overwhelming. I was flooded with fear.  Fear about everything and nothing. I felt fragile against the world. I felt like every decision I made from that point forward was life and death. I felt like I was balancing on a tightrope with only blackness beneath me.

My boyfriend grabbed my hand with concern and asked, “Are you ok?”

I couldn’t even put into words what was happening to me. I had never experienced fear before. All I could do was excuse myself from the table. I left him sitting there with his fork in his hand, in shock.

I took the elevator to our floor, scurried down the hallway, walked in our room, passed the unmade bed, went to the bathroom, laid down on the cold marble floor and began to sob.

Strangely enough the bathroom floor was the most comfortable place to be in that moment. It seemed safe, confined and cold. I grabbed the phone next to the toilet (these are so strange, huh?) and called Brooke, my best-friend, my other.

I sobbed through the whole story.

And I stayed in that bathroom for a few hours.

That was five years ago.

Since then, my issues with anxiety have come and gone. I’ll go through periods where I feel nothing but trust in the universe. I feel connected. I feel full of faith. I feel like I’m flowing with everything around me. I don’t feel any anxious flutters. It’s pure bliss. I live for those moments.

Then that sneaky little bastard will find his way to me again and wrap his heavy dark cloak around my neck and I become afraid of everything. Every single decision feels huge. I feel like I want to stay in bed and hide. Those periods are rough.

Recently, I decided to give Chinese medicine a try after reading..

“Chinese medicine recognizes that powerful interplay between the body and emotions; the two are, in fact, inseparable. When we become emotionally upset, our internal environment also becomes disrupted, leading to the physical symptoms of anxiety. When we are physically compromised, our emotions can be greatly affected.”

I mean, I have already tried the western route to no avail; anti-depressants, Xanax, propanol, and while it does momentarily fix the situation it doesn’t really FIX the situation, if you know what I mean.

I know on a deeper level that my anxiety flares up when I am spiritually imbalanced.

When I’m blocked.

When I’m not putting my wellbeing first.

When I am overwhelmed.

When I am not being honest with myself.

When I’m pretending to be “fine”.

When I am not in a healthy state of mind.

When I am not connected to something bigger than me.

When I don’t feel connected to my purpose.

My acupuncturist literally said to me…your energy is blocked.

I’ve been doing acupuncture and taking Chinese herbs for the last three weeks and I’ve already started to see little changes.

Where will this lead me? I don’t know yet, but I am hopeful that maybe just maybe I’ve found a key to unlocking myself from my relationship with the dark, heavy cloak.


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