I have anxiety, usually social but performance based anxiety sneaks in from time to time as well.
That said, I will go through extended periods where nothing really hits my radar.
I'm typically able to blissfully navigate my days worry free by focusing on the things within my control and letting the things outside of my control run their course.
When I do experience anxiety, it feels almost like a current in the air around me. My body reacts to it - I feel staticky
I became, over time, really good at mitigating the risk of becoming anxious. As a result, I could easily avoid the situations that had the potential to trigger my anxiety.
I feel like my anxiety, much like the first fish with feet, has evolved. It's no longer an ocean dweller - it's on land now and it has fast little legs.
Think of my anxiety as Usain Bolt and my brain as a chubby 2nd grader and we're competing against one another in a 50 yard dash. Even if you're not sure who that is - all you need to know is he never loses a race, not ever. My brain however is in the corner eating a croissant with its shoes untied.
For me, the onset of my anxiety is a very visceral sensation, like that moment where you think something is wrong right before the hairs on the back of you neck stand up. Some sort of evolutionary "oh shit - you need to go" feeling.
What is so ridiculous is it usually seeps into areas of my life that I'm most proficient in - so clearly it never strikes me when I'm at the gym or in my personal life - it's always work related ... or related to things I'm doing on a BoD or on certain committees, etc.
I do certain things incredibly well - I am a phenomenal speaker and I lead meetings, regardless of content, better than most anyone I know. I'm good at it and I love it.
Lately, however, I have been feeling tremendous anxiety before meetings. I have no idea why my anxiety is popping up in this space as even with me dreading walking into the meetings, the second they start I'm back at 100%. I don't stumble, I don't bumble around trying to sort out my messaging or delivery - the meetings go incredibly well, they flow & they end well.
But every day, when I open my calendar that static / that electrical charge begins to swirl around me and I become very aware of this heightened sense of dread ... I become anxious and want an out ... I want someone to tell me to move it or cancel it.
The good news is I know what's going to trigger my anxiety the bad news is all I do is sit in meetings which apparently is the trigger for my anxiety.. As of late, I feel like someone who is absolutely terrified of fire yet gets a job as a fire eater in a carnival.
Every single second of every single day, I'm planning a meeting, leading a meeting, prepping for a meeting, prepping for a meeting to talk about an upcoming meeting, being pulled into meetings unexpectedly, when I'm not in a meeting I am thinking of my next meeting ... it's never ending. It's literally never ending.
I shared with my manager, whom I'm crazy about, that I feel a bit stranded - like no one is helping or stepping up on some very large and critically important initiatives. So I go through the motions, I'm plugging the holes, and spinning the plates but I honestly feel as though someone dropped kicked me out of a helicopter into the middle of a shark infested ocean and I know no help is coming and I have no life preserver, and for some reason I'm dressed as a seal-pup. There's no doubt, I'm about to get ripped apart by sharks.
Above: Me at work.
I'd like to think that seal went on to live a very charmed life after receiving a much deserved promotion.
Anyways, I know how I'm feeling is causing my anxiety to grow legs and it's really starting to creep into other areas of my life.
A few things happened today that was really rather remarkable though. I kicked off my day with an email war so out of the gate my anxiety was growing and then someone I can't stand, like I literally HATE this person, called and left me a 3 minute voicemail.
Just think, for a moment, how long a 3-minute voicemail is ... I saw him call, while I was in a meeting obviously, I sent him to my VM and 3 minutes later the notification came through.
By this time my meeting had ended so I sat there and stared at the VM screen for a few minutes. My logical brain assumed it was nothing but my anxious brain had a "hold my beer" moment and flooded my mind with: Why did he call me ... What does he want ... What could possibly take 3 minutes ... What horrible things will this person say to me ... Is he suing me ... Is he threatening me ... why after all this time would he reach out ... did he reach out to anyone else or just me, etc.
I happened to talk to a friend a few hours after the VM came through who also knows this person and I told him that he reached out and how I can't bring myself to check the voicemail. I shared that it was really stressing me out and I couldn't listen to it. Immediately, he told me to just send him the VM, that he would listen to it and let me know if there was anything I needed to know.
First of all - I had no idea you could forward a voicemail ... Secondly - I have never had someone just so effortlessly take over a situation that was creating anxiety for me. It was such a small gesture on his part but in an instant, my anxiety went from an 8 to a 2. Someone casually stepped in and removed the stressor. I didn't even care what was in the VM at this point.
After being incredibly stressed out, enough to mention it to someone else, enough for someone else to jump in - it turns out, there was no VM. When I sent him to VM I think he thought he disconnected so it was literally 3 minutes of listening to nothing. Just background ambient noises. It could have been an unintentional phone call - who knows really.
What I'm finding is that my anxiety is really rather rooted in feeling like I'm solely responsible for something (a project, the success of something, my home, etc) and anything that threatens my stability or how I define myself or something as successful, it sends me reeling.
I don't mean to imply that I'm alone or actually solely responsible for absolutely everything (it's a lot though) - I have amazing friends, amazing family, amazing people who support me, amazing relationships, a great job for the most part, etc.
Today I realized 1. it really easy for someone to step in and disrupt an anxious cycle I just need to ask for help and 2. anxiety (for me) has no basis in reality - it's just my mind running wild identifying countless worse case scenarios when the reality is, it's probably just 3 minutes of static.
I feel that perhaps I have a lot of static that maybe I just need to acknowledge and confront head on so i can get back to enjoying each and every day! Life is too short to give anxiety a lot of care and feeding - it's exhausting and it has worn me down over the last 4-6 weeks but today something shifted a bit ...
The next few weeks will be stressful with meetings and large projects but my hope is that I can be a bit more like water than rock and let some of it roll over me versus trying to force something or trying to stop the unstoppable.
No Approvals Needed
For Christmas someone gave Scott a Zen Calendar and I found it on a counter and took it. This thing turned out to be an absolute goldmine. So thanks to whomever didn't give me a present, I LOVE it so very much.
Oh man - I just found out that was not a present for Scott - it was a gift for Finn. I stole a Christmas present from my child. I'm sure Finn would have loved it, if he had known about it.
((best present ever))
I feel like I would have written these after many glasses of wine and an extraordinary amount of sleep depravation. Today: "I like a view but I like to sit with my back to it" - why would you do that? That was written by Gertrude Stein by the way ... and it makes no sense to me.
While many seem like they were written by someone who moonlights as the content editor over at "Demotivational Posters" every so often I come across one that resonates with me on such a profound level.
This happened to be the first of many. Until I hit my 40's I was absolute consumed with the approval of others. It was something that I chased after on a nonstop basis. The thought of disappointing someone gnawed at me and would linger in my thoughts for all eternity - just reliving over and over again the moment I embarrassed myself or let someone down.
Ridiculous moments just stuck on a never ending loop playing over and over again in my mind. It was a fairly terrible way to live as other people's opinions became more important than my own. Other people's voice became louder and more influential than my own.
It wasn't until I had enough distance and enough time alone with my thoughts to really begin to shift which narrative I listened to. Which me was my most authentic? I had no idea really because historically speaking I based my decisions on what I thought other people wanted me to do.
I think, somewhere along the way, I realized that if I'm living my life based on what someone else wants, then I'm really not living MY life at all.
If you're like me - stop apologizing for who you are and certainly stop seeking approval that who you are is acceptable. It is ...
I'm not sure how I have changed so much over these last few years but I have. I feel different, I look different, I feel at ease, my stress is at an all time low and I'm finding joy in just being exactly who I am at this point in time.
It also made me realize how fun it is to just be ... to just exist. The people who are drawn to that - to me as my most authentic self are the people who should be in my life and they are. It's effortless.
So if you find yourself scrambling for one person's approval in particular, maybe it's time to ask why that is. What makes how they see you more important than how you see yourself?
Nothing. Nothing does.
Get that tattoo, find a new job, cut your hair, become an artist, do something new or unexpected, find a path you love, start a blog that no one reads (there is so much freedom in that),surround yourself with those that bring you happiness ... do whatever it is you want to do for no other reason than you want to.
Tip: if anyone gives your child a Zen Calendar - just take it ... 1. they won't notice and 2. you may find someone put pen to paper and expressed exactly how you're feeling and that's a pretty amazing thing.
Baking Zen - One Loaf At A Time
This past January, during a 2-week business trip, I decided to become a bread baking powerhouse.
I have found, if a work trip spans more than a week, I mentally teleport back to a time when moms stayed home and baked amazing things with one hand while making a perfect gin martini in the other (in heels / while vacuuming). I'm then consumed with guilt and come up with a MP (Mom Project).
Here we are - I'm a baker now, since that was a 2-week trip.
Even though, I knew nothing about baking bread and had no idea how to feed a starter - I bought a tiny bit of an old sourdough starter.
A few days after I returned, the smallest little jar with the smallest little bit of starter showed up on my doorstep. That little bit eventually grew into something amazing that has made countless boules and loaves of bread now!
It was just a little blob with amazing aspirations.
I took my itty bitty bit of starter and added luke warm water & AP Flour. By the next day, it had grown substantially, was bubbly & airy and had the most amazing smell.
I kept 4 oz and the rest became my discard. I fed the held back 4 oz, with 4 oz AP Flour and 4 oz Luke Warm Water. Once mixed it will look like the photo on the left.
The next day, I had a fairly ripe starter but instead of using it, I repeated the process above by holding back & feeding. I did this because you need to have a good bit of starter to be able to bake something and have enough left to feed.
This past Saturday, I made bread so Finn would have it, even with me out of town. I'm only gone for a week this time so I won't come back with a new MP which is great as I am really enjoying becoming a good baker!
I absolutely LOVE making homemade bread. I just wish I knew people that actually ate carbs as my bread making is limited to just a few small loaves a week otherwise they'd go to waste!
I only eat a single slice, each Sunday, due to maintaining a Keto Lifestyle. The way I eat and what I like to bake are slightly at odds but I'm working on a bunch of Keto Friendly recipes as well. Stay Tuned For Those!
Until this past weekend, I never really stopped to think how amazing it is to make bread.
I just felt so completely in awe that with next to no ingredients I can make something to feed my family.
This starter has contributed to the baking of countless - literally countless loaves of bread.
Its origins are from the late 1800's.
When people discard - they often give portions of it away to other homes where it is fed and discarded to another home and then that gets discarded and goes to another home. It's endless, the cycle continues literally forever.
Since having mine, I have given portions to a handful of friends and several of them have given portions to their friends which is just is the coolest thing ever to me.
While I really have a long (LONG) way to go in terms of perfecting my bread making - I am so very taken by the process and found a shit ton of ZEN in my kitchen!
You can bring simplicity to your life while making something timeless, wholesome, preservative free and shockingly delicious. The first bakeries popped up in Greece 2nd century A.D. and honestly - we're still using the same 3 ingredients (yeast, water, flour). Not much has changed.
Something so simple has created a new tradition our home. Every Sunday, our home fills up with the smell of baking bread, it brings us together around the kitchen island where we laugh and talk about our upcoming week - it's just the coolest thing of all.
I love that my son's memories will include such moments.
Oh! Discard - that doesn't mean toss it out. You can make waffles, biscuits, pancakes, etc. That's also what you can give to friends so they can make their own!
I'm a little waffle factory and I make a massive batch for my son as part of my meal prep on Sunday mornings. Just let them cool and store them in the fridge (or freezer).
On school days I warm them up in a buttered cast iron pan. They become buttery & crispy within just a few minutes. To have something easy that a teen will sit down long enough to eat is a massive win.