My answer to anxiety. + A trip to Puerto Rico.

March 6, 2013

in Keeping it real, Travel, Uncategorized

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The beaches at Rincon, on the west coast of Puerto Rico. I snorkeled here, and the coral reefs are some of the most amazing in the world.

You’d think that my trip to Puerto Rico last week is my answer to easing my anxiety.  But of course not.

I’ll start from the beginning.  From my very earliest moments, I can remember wanting to live this BIG LIFE.  To feel something grand, and enrich every experience with the most it could be.  I was also a very creative and intense child.  I felt so many emotions, and worked so hard to be perfect, to be the best at everything.  This could be great, but it also became a huge burden for me- one that I struggle with to this day.  I vividly remember when my neighbor’s dog was hit by a car.  I don’t remember how old I was, but I remember how much it hurt me.  How much emotion I felt.  I remember my mother saying, “It’s not even your dog.  Get over it.” And with that I filed those thoughts away, but I don’t think the way I dealt with stress, emotion and anxiety changed.

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Me with one of my colorful outfits, hoping to be inspired by the bright colors of this city.

Even with this blog.  I wonder, “Am I doing a good job?  What should it be about? How can I connect with others?”. I’m yearning to share, to connect and to let this place be an outlet for me and inspire others.  How can we be truthful, vulnerable and still come off as strong and helpful?  But I’ve discovered that the only answer for me is to keep sharing, keep writing and ease anxiety by doing.  

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Ceviche + ginger martini at St. Germaine

I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world, Puerto Rico, this past 7 days.  I was stressed (not the whole time), and at points was unable to tear my mind away from my work waiting at home for me, emails going unchecked, people potentially getting stressed by my absence.  It was seriously so hard.  I felt like I didn’t deserve to get away, like I was being irresponsible.  Taking time out for myself has never been easy.  I tend to be so hard on myself, to re-think every decision I make if it was done purely for me, or wasn’t totally necessary.  It’s hard to even type this.  I wonder if I come across like a crazy person.  But I do think it was much influenced by how I was raised and certain things happened during my childhood. I don’t think it’s good to go into too much detail at the moment, but I do feel that some losses that my family experienced (and watching my parents struggle through those tough times) forever changed me.  It set me on a course of never believing things would be ok for very long.  It taught me about scarcity, and it made my parents human at a time when I thought they were invincible.  This was unsettling for me, and shook me to my core.  It took me a good, long time to stop blaming them.  Brene Brown, author of my new favorite book, Daring Greatly, says this:  “Worrying about scarcity is our culture’s version of post-traumatic stress.  It happens when we’ve been through too much, and rather than coming together to heal (which requires vulnerability) we’re angry and scared and at each other’s throats.”

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My “homework” was to begin my own course in miracles, with Gabby Bernstein. I find it slightly interesting that at the Pop Art Hotel, this Tom Waits book was sitting on the table during my first day there. Even though these two people are so different, both books presented an idea of small change(s).

Lately, I’ve been attempting to practice a good amount of yoga and meditation, in order to center myself and ease the anxiety I have over running and growing this business, striving for this big life, desiring to achieve more and get to where I want with career and life.  Gabrielle Bernstein has become a favorite and a guru, and I’m hoping that continually practicing her strategy of strengthening your inner guidance system as a way to move more peacefully and purposefully through life helps me to understand and love myself more and feel less anxiety.

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My awesome smoothie with cucumber, kale, kelp, orange, and banana vinegar.

One crazy thing about writing this post is that re-living these photos makes me wish I was still there, basking in the sun, listening to the waves.  And it makes me sad, because I had so much trouble being in the moment.  Has this happened to anyone else?

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Watching the sunset from a rooftop that I somehow managed to get onto (that wasn’t my hotel but was sooooo stunning).

Regardless of my anxiety, I managed to have a really nice time, to explore another culture, to look at the sea and watch waves crashing with a beer in my hand.  I even had a few *perfect* moments, marked by surrounding myself with what matters most to me:  good food, good people, good design, and a sense of adventure.  And I think that’s how I’m going to end this post, with a lesson that I’ve learned about myself.  Surrounding myself with the things that I hold dear, with what inspires me (including inspiration itself), with blogs that feel kindred, and people that are out there achieving and living and doing it in spite of the fear that they feel is what levels me out, what makes me feel most like myself and at ease.  I doubt it will ever be easy for me, but pushing myself farther and learning to choose love over fear (thanks Gabby) will guide me to greater heights, even if I’m scared to death along the way.

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The lovely patio at La Copa Lena, in Rincon.

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