How Yoga Changed My Life

Growing up I always saw yoga as only being for stuck up snobs who thought they were better than everyone else or just for skinny people. But once I graduated college, I decided to give it a try because after all the Zumba I was doing, I desperately needed some stretching to even out. And to my surprise, I found that I quite enjoyed yoga.

It all started with this YouTube playlist called the 30 Day Yoga Challenge (which you can find here) and I was looking for anything to get me into a habit so I clicked on day one. Turns out the instructor, Erin Motz, aka Bad Yogi, was the total opposite of what I expected from a yoga teacher! She was funny, she was down to earth, and she made yoga accessible to someone like me, who is quite full figured and not stick thin.

After I finished day one, I felt fantastic and looked forward to coming back for day two. As each day passed and I completed each class, I found that I enjoyed Erin’s teaching style. She made me want to come back for more. And on top of that, all the stretching I was doing made me feel better.

Yoga taught me how to have better posture. Instead of just saying to stand up straighter, it taught me how to straighten and stretch out my spine so that I actually felt what good posture should feel like. Yoga taught me how to be mindful of my body and Erin very kindly told us in her videos not to push past our limits because some of the harder poses could seriously hurt us. Now I know which pain to push through and how to relax my muscles in a stretch when I’m a bit stiffer. And the flexibility that has come with doing yoga for 5 years was definitely worth it! When I first started my Pigeon pose, I couldn’t come down into my elbows and my hips were fairly high off the floor. Now, not only can I come down onto my elbows and my hips are nearly touching the floor, but on a good day when I’m really warm and stretched out, I can rest my forehead on my mat and stretch my arms out around my head. And on top of that, when I am sitting up, I can reach back and actually grab my foot to pull for a quad stretch, whereas I couldn’t even reach my foot before.

In addition to Pigeon, I can now manage to get into a headstand, as long as I’m next to a wall, when before I couldn’t even manage to get up into a headstand. I used to not be able to hold plank pose for more than a couple seconds and now I can hold it for 30 or more seconds on my hands, and 60+ seconds on my forearms. And one of Erin’s more unique videos, I think, would be the one focused on hands and wrists. I had to agree with her statement that not everyone would even think they had tight hands, though as a writer it was not that big a shock to me. But I’ve watched her hands and wrists video so much that I have it memorized and I incorporate it into my daily routine because it’s so much more than just a yoga video for me. It’s a necessity because I am constantly doing stuff with my hands, whether that’s excessive typing or crocheting or writing or whatever. And her stretches make it easier for me to relieve some of the tension in my hands and wrists and it’s made all the difference.

Lastly, and most importantly, yoga taught me the joy of just sitting still and being quiet with myself. In its own way, it’s not only become my regular stretching practice but it’s also become a form of meditation for me. I can focus on the moves and my breathing, quietly keep time in my head for each move when I’m doing my own flow, and just drown everything else out. Which, for someone with anxiety that’s worsened in the past few years, some mental peace and quiet is much needed. And I don’t have to be moving through a flow to meditate. I can sit quietly on my mat and close my eyes, because once I hit that mat, no matter what time of day or whatever’s going on in my life, everything pauses around me. Being on my mat clears my head, gives me focus, and most importantly, calms my body down, all of which are important for slowing or stopping an anxiety attack from happening.

If you’re interested in learning more about Erin’s practices, you can find her YouTube channel here and her blog here. She’s a fantastic teacher and she has her own program now called the Perfect Body Yoga Program, which I hear is amazing (but sadly cannot afford myself). Go check her out and see for yourself. 🙂

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Anxiety as a Disability

When people tell me, “What do you have to be anxious about?”, I just want to smack them. Mental health is a HUGE deal lately and as someone with worsening anxiety, I take personal offense to anyone who brushes it off as nothing or says it’s “all in my head.”

Take today for example. My morning was ruined before 9am because of a phone call. It wasn’t anything particularly terrible, like a family death, but in my head, the accusatory tone of the person I was speaking to made me feel like a horrible person for doing what I was instructed (with regards to making the call) and for not knowing all the details of my claim process.

This led to a micro anxiety attack with tears and jaw clenching, and faded into a six-hour fatigue period. This fatigue is from my anxiety and is absolutely no fun at all. I spent most of my morning in a quiet, darkened room, and laying down trying to get comfy and relieve a minor headache. I had a funny show on the TV at a low volume to help distract my mind and I ended up taking a nap around 12:30. I didn’t have the energy to do anything. I didn’t even have the will to do anything except lay down and rest. How do people not think this is disabling?

And this was just after a minor attack. The one time I had a severe attack, I was so exhausted, achy, and fuzzy-brained that I had to call in sick for one entire day, and since it was a Friday, I had the rest of the weekend to recover. But it still took until Monday night for me to even start to feel better. A full four days to recover from a severe attack.

I’ve been tracking and monitoring my anxiety levels for the past two years and it’s progressively been getting worse, to the point where the attacks can be weekly, and the migraines and tension headaches I’ve been having, either as a result of an attack or as a precursor to one from the amount of stress I’ve been under, are up from once or twice a month to three or four times a week. Don’t worry, I’m off to see my doctor next week and I’ve made a list of anxiety symptoms that I believe are interfering with my daily life, as well as questions to ask. I’m also planning to ask if I should be seeing a psychologist more regularly to get a handle on this, because clearly I’m not doing well on my own.

I’m just tired of feeling tired and stressed all the time, and I’m worried that my anxiety will keep me from doing regular work again. Which is a sign that it can be considered a disability. Whether or not the disability agency thinks so is another hurdle I may be having to overcome in the near future.

Finding My Own Way

Happy Wednesday!

Today has been a bit of a whirlwind sort of day. It started out pretty miserable when someone I was speaking to on the phone addressed me with an accusatory tone (I was calling about an unemployment claim) about something from my weekly certification, which I had no memory of, and she spoke to me as if I should have remembered and known better. That set off a micro anxiety attack that left me on edge the rest of the day.

It did not get better until after my mother came home and asked me to go downstairs to work on crafting stuff with her. I was supposed to receive a call from a potential new employer, a call that was postponed from yesterday, and while my phone never actually rang, I did get a voicemail 45 minutes after the agreed-upon time explaining the tardiness and also indicating that an email would be sent for a future time. So far, no email has been received and my instincts are screaming for me to bolt and run from this place. I have no interest in playing games like this.

Which leads to the main point of this post: finding my own way. After I followed mom downstairs to do crafting stuff, my mind got some much needed clarify and I was able to focus on finishing up my light box for my crocheted crafts. On top of that, I got all the photos taken, and some cropped while others need to be edited yet. I’m tired now, which might seem odd for what was a small amount of work, but at least I accomplished something that made me happy and allowed me to focus for a short period of time.

And to be honest, I think that’s what I need right now.

Not to work for someone else, to fill someone else’s pocket, or follow someone else’s rules. What I need to do right now is find my own way, even if I’m struggling for a little while. Do I expect to be an overnight sensation? No. Building a company or even a small community takes time. But I know my projects are well-crafted (I know a 10-month-old who’s really putting their toy to the test) and people love handmade things.

What’s most important to me right now is my health and my happiness, and this job hunting stress is not helping either, especially when a potential employer appears to be yanking my chain. Nobody needs that kind of nonsense.

Sewing Project #2 Part 3

Whoa, two and a half weeks and no posts? My apologies! It’s been a hectic couple weeks.

Anyway, my second sewing project, the Pokemon trainer cosplay has been finished!

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I’m happy to report that everything went well, with only one minor accident with the serger where I cut into the sleeve. It wasn’t too big a cut and was easily fixed and could be covered with a Pokemon patch. I’ll be sending it out tomorrow to its intended recipient and hopefully it fits. She already loves it, as I’ve sent her photos of the progress.

In addition, I’ve been working on crocheting more amigurumi, mostly little fairies inspired by Navi from Legend of Zelda. So far, I have 6 done in my “inventory” and yesterday I sold two to my brother for two of his friends. They’re super fun to make and don’t take a whole lot of time. Plus, I’m also hoping to work on other characters, like Link, Mario and Luigi, various Final Fantasy characters, and others. I have a list written down of all kinds of characters I could make. I’m hoping to turn it into a business, since our current workload doesn’t seem to be slowing down any and I’m worn out.

Anyway, this sewing project has given me more confidence in being able to sew on my own, especially with stretchy knits, which are probably what I’m going to be working with most. I also have about 10 patterns for cosplay I need to cut out, ranging from Vincent Valentine to Mal and Zoe from Firefly, and Princess Zelda. I’m excited to do all of them, once I have the money to buy the fabric. But having completed my first cosplay (for someone else), my mood has improved and my stress levels have gone down a little bit, and that’s the important part. ❤

Sewing Project #2: Part 2

Since my last post regarding this sewing project, I have obtained the rest of the fabric needed for the outfit, plus an additional yard and a half of a different, stretchy, pleather-y textured fabric for myself for a cosplay of my own, and I now have everything (I think!) to begin the actual sewing process.

I have a meeting on Saturday with a friend of my mother’s who is a seamstress and knows how to work with stretchy fabrics and will help teach me how to work with them. The only real qualm I have about this meeting is that I’ll be going by myself to her house to work. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, as I’ve been to her house twice, I know who she is, and I’ve made friends with her cat.

But for this particular meeting, I think what has my anxiety levels higher than normal is that it was made spur of the moment (we actually set it up yesterday), and because I’ve been extremely stressed out from work (running at 150% for over two months straight with no break except two hours sick leave and four days planned vacation) and not really having any peace and quiet to myself since early last week. I haven’t really had, or given myself time to mellow out and relax and not do anything. I had company Sunday and Monday, and while my parents were both off yesterday, during the time they were gone, I was working. And today, my dad decided to take a sick day and as I’ve mentioned before, he likes to watch TV and I can’t work with the TV on. So I’m hiding in the basement where I’m not as comfortable as I usually am and not having any natural light like normal either.

In any case, come Saturday, I may be hauling my own sewing machine and all of my materials to this woman’s house to start working on the Pokemon trainer cosplay, depending on whether or not she has a class to teach.

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In addition, I finished my first, all-by-myself amigurumi this week! I made them as housewarming gifts for Jerad because I didn’t know what to buy him. So here they are, Toon Link and Navi!

Amigurumi Link and Navi

I’m so proud of both of these, I’m considering making more! Navi can be in different colors and Link can have different colored tunics! I’m excited to get started on them!

Zelda-ed Out

Sorry for not posting much in the past few weeks. It’s been kind of chaotic here.

So, for the past two weeks, my friend Jerad has been spending the night here and playing (almost) every Legend of Zelda game he owns. He recently bought the last three he didn’t have previously, but they were not included in his marathon. He had estimated his gaming marathon at taking 10, maybe 11 days. Today is day 13 and he’s still working on the last one. Sounds like a long vacation of sorts, right?

To be honest, I haven’t minded having him here for that long. I’ve actually been enjoying his company and watching all the different Zelda games, some of which I’ve never played before, and I’m going to be a little sad when he leaves. On the other hand, I haven’t really been on my usual schedule for those two weeks and haven’t had much alone time to decompress so I’m looking forward to having that back tomorrow. But having him here for so long got me thinking on how he’s been a good influence on me and how I’m not completely drained physically or mentally.

Since he’s been here, I’ve had several days where I went over my step goal of 6,000 steps (and yes I know it’s supposed to be 10K a day, but I needed to work up to that from sitting all the time) because I went for walks with him while he went Pokemon hunting and we chatted during those walks, which was nice. I haven’t been stress eating because I’m not all that stressed, despite not having a great deal of work this week, which also means I haven’t touched my chocolate stash in several days. And on top of my lack of stress eating, I’ve been eating healthier foods and snacks all around, from grapes and apple slices to cherries, carrots, and asparagus. It hasn’t all been healthy (like the ice cream bars and the hot dogs and chips) but it’s been pretty balanced overall, which I haven’t really been able to do by myself.

I think the most important thing he’s done while he’s been here is not leave me feeling completely drained and overwhelmed, which is difficult in itself because we’ve also had extra company over the past two weekends that I wasn’t expecting. But he hasn’t made me feel frantic or panicked or anything like that. He knows about my anxiety and has been taking it into account, even going so far as to help with my impromptu babysitting needs. When a discussion about Gia came up (while I was still babysitting), I heard him mention something about trying to coax an apology from me to her (since she had told him she would not apologize to me until I did and maybe then she would admit she overreacted). But my dad told him something, I didn’t quite hear the details because I was in the other room with the four year old girl I was watching, but what I did catch was that after all the stuff Gia had said about me and my family, I was the one deserving of an apology and Jerad said that he hadn’t known about whatever it was my dad told him. Since then, there has been no discussion whatsoever about an apology or about Gia.

I appreciate that he still has faith the friendship will resume after we’ve both had some time to cool off and be apart, but we’ve been “apart” for four years now and I’ve just started to see how toxic she really is. After two years I’ve finally found my voice again, my own personality, and I’m no longer a needy, dependent little girl looking for any friends that’ll have me. I am a strong, independent woman who doesn’t have time for anyone else’s drama or issues. I decide which friends to keep and which friends aren’t worth the effort. Being in a one-sided relationship is never worth it, especially if you’re the only one putting in any effort.

True Freedom

It’s very freeing, being out from under the yoke of your oppressor.

This was the very first sentence used to start this blog, and now it’s never been truer. When I started this blog, I had only made the mental decision to rid the toxic person from my life. I hadn’t deleted contact info, or social media contacts. I was always worrying about having to reply to awkward texts and having to be polite in them, even though I didn’t want to.

Now I don’t have to do any of that. I’ve deleted the contact info and social media contacts. I no longer expect to get any more texts, especially after I didn’t respond to the last one, though for now I’m keeping it as a reminder of what manipulation looks like. I am truly free.

Which means I can focus all my energy on my hobbies, my gaming, my writing! I’m on my second to last major character profile, which is proving difficult because he’s a mercenary. But I’m still there! My elemental ripple blanket is going so well also. I’ve moved onto the green, though I haven’t taken a full photo with the green on it.

And I’m working on my Final Fantasy gaming challenge, just got past Nibelheim in FF7 and I’m hoping today I can get to disc 2. However my cousin and her girlfriend are up for the weekend, and I don’t know how much time they’ll be spending up here visiting so maybe I won’t get to disc 2. But I’m still going to try.

And with that, my lovelies, I bid you adieu and never forget that you are the key to your own happiness. No one can make you unhappy unless you let them. Be true to yourself, let your nerd flag fly high, and rejoice in whatever makes you happiest. Much love ❤