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Lessons of Depression

Lessons of Depression

Before we begin

The depression I experience is relatively mild, and I want to be clear that this is NOT a message about “thinking positive” or “looking on the bright side” or trying to diminish the experience of those with more severe forms of this disease. I can only write from my own perspective, and I am open to hearing from you if this resonates or if it is unintentionally dismissive.

What depression has taught me

A few weeks ago I scribbled a random thought on the bottom of a page, and promptly forgot about it.

“Lesson of depression = love yourself more

Love without shame”

Last night I stumbled upon it again just as I was about to lead an hour-long meditation, so i spent some time with it, feeling into the intention.

The feelings I had around this also intertwined with a story I’d heard on the radio earlier about restorative justice. A judge required a drug offender to write an essay about how she ended up in the criminal justice system, and she wrote about how she had been diagnosed with a fatal illness 24 years earlier and her life had taken a turn toward hopelessness and drug addiction. After she read the essay in court, the judge said, do you realize you beat that disease 23 years ago? Then the judge described the moment – observing as the woman realized how much time she had lost, how many years she had let the diagnosis beat her instead of realizing she had beaten the diagnosis.

That flip in perspective echoes in my scribble about depression. I can push back against depression defining me. I can see it as a visitor bearing gifts that may outweigh its pain. I can frame this as a lesson in how to take an obstacle and treat it as an opportunity: to cultivate the ability to love myself tenderly, unapologetically, unconditionally. To develop the resilience to protect and forgive myself on the days when depression wins. To resist its lies. To use my good days to build structures and practices that will cushion and shelter my heart.

Depression has taught me about boundaries. I am learning to say “no” even when I feel like I should do something, go somewhere, or perform socially for someone else. If it doesn’t feel right, I am learning to put myself first and to do it with integrity – no white lies, no evasiveness, I can say no in service to my own spirit and let that be the answer. I also set boundaries with my inner voice – the liar in me that tells me I’m not enough. I can say to that voice, in much the same way I teach my children to hold their boundaries: you can’t talk to me like that. That is not okay, and that is not going to happen.

Depression is teaching me to say, I am perfect just the way I am, and fuck off if you don’t agree. My mistakes don’t define me or reduce my beauty. I am perfect on my good days and my bad days. I am perfect and I am good and I am wildly, deeply loved. It’s reaching me to be stronger when I’m okay so I’m stronger when I’m not.

Depression has taught me not to compare myself to others. I recognize that everyone has strengths, their strengths don’t need to be mine, and that doesn’t make me any less. I catch myself when I despair over the “Five Hundred Things Happy People Do Better Than You” type articles. I laugh when I see that Beyonce has the same 24 hours that I do… dude, Beyonce has STAFF. I have ME and I’m doing just fine, even when I’m not.

Depression lies to me and tells me I’m a failure, everyone hates me, no one is listening, no one truly cares. Some days I believe it and I even hear myself saying those words. I am still learning to make amends. I will adapt and I will thrive.

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it’s true

You’re perfect just the way you are.

058 just really

One day this week, I wrote a post but I forgot to hit Publish. Now it’s here somewhere in my drafts but I’m not sure where.

Another day I did something brilliant on Instagram but lacked the brain power to figure out how to share it here.

One day I was so tired I went to bed at 7 pm even though I knew that meant I wasn’t keeping my promise.

I’m so tired. I haven’t even recovered from the sensory overload of the conference last week – haven’t written about it, haven’t reviewed my notes. I miss the creative energy and the brilliant women and the flow of ideas. And, so much of it was overwhelming and I came straight home to excited children & Easter family gathering & a CRAZY busy week of massage and I am spent.

001 the declaration of my devotion

001 the declaration of my devotion

A rant

I am inconsistent. Forgetful. Scattered. Twice in the past two days, I’ve made dumb mistakes that have cost me time and money. I say I’m a coach but I have a website I hate, no programs or group offerings, no consistent engagement on any platform. I make promises I don’t keep. I start projects and don’t finish. Last year, my own coach dumped me because I didn’t show up consistently. I swore I would do better for myself to make up for the stunning hurt that rejection caused. And then I didn’t.

Every time I start to write a blog post or newsletter I feel compelled to add a line about ‘I know it’s been a while… but I’m still here!’ But then I’m embarrassed to show up that way and I write nothing. And accomplish nothing.

I have a burning desire beyond words to serve, to witness, to create, to teach OTHER PEOPLE how to get THEIR stuff done – but I get so caught in the feedback loops in my own head that I do not accomplish what I desire. I am sick of beating myself up, crying, starting over, floundering, beating myself up again.

I am exhausted from my silence, my fear, my broken promises, my disappointment. I am sick of myself. Other people are sick of me. I am not practicing for myself what I preach, which is to envision and consciously create the life you desire and live it every day.

I declare

I possess genius, purpose, compassion, and courage. I am a love warrior, a brilliant mind, a sensitive heart, a space holder, and a joy enabler. I am an amazing mom & wife. I give my all and I believe I am worthy of greatness.

Every damn day, for 108 days starting today, I am showing up in this space. Blog post, quote, article share, book review, photo, journal prompt, Q&A, video, whatever. I bring my whole, open, vulnerable heart as I step across this line I’ve drawn in the sand. I am fully and utterly devoted to myself, to my role as a coach and writer, to my invincible summer, to the public sharing of my personal journey: to make a promise to myself, and to keep it.

All Alone

Last night: kids out with the grandparents. Husband working late. Silent house.
 
I couldn’t even believe it… moments alone! In my house! With no one needing anything from me! As a highly sensitive person and an introvert, with kids and a husband and a home and a part-time job and a business, I live in a world of constant over-stimulation where time to myself is my unicorn. Most people have sexual fantasies… I fantasize about being left alone. 
 
I floundered around for a while – what do I do?! Dishes? Laundry? [Susan… seriously… it’s ok to relax
Go to bed at 7? [now we’re talkin’… except this almost seems like wasting the opportunity]
 
In the end I opted for premium self-care: popcorn and chocolate for dinner, sketching in my brand new bullet journal, and catching up on Downton Abbey. Perfection.
 
It’s exceedingly rare to have a few hours free – most days I literally only get minutes to focus on me. My quick parking lot meditations are a lifesaver when I know that a big block of silence is going to be a long wait. It CAN be done if you’re crafty and committed. How can you take care of yourself today, in whatever moments you have? 

Walking through the Fire

gateway

New moon, soft rainy skies, and the anniversary of one of the most painful days of my life.  Oh Sunday, go home, you’re drunk.

This past Sunday was a doozy. I had a total meltdown over losing my keys (dear Mercury retrograde, please go away). I couldn’t even cope with the frustration, I just fell to pieces. I was self-aware enough to wonder what the hell was going on with me… and then it hit me. I looked at the date. And there was my answer.
January 10, 2010 was one of the worst days of my life. Upheaval of things I trusted implicitly, total disruption of what I thought my life really was. Even with the comfort of friends and family I felt (and still feel, to a certain extent) deeply, irretrievably alone.
In six years, I’ve learned to love and forgive and nourish my spirit in ways that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. I used to think of myself as ‘healing’ – then as I was working on my intentions for 2015, I realized that I could release healing and consider myself healed. That was a permission that hadn’t occurred to me until then and it’s given me a lot to think about over the past year. I will always have the experience and the memories- but I have walked through the fire.
I wish it had never happened, but if it hadn’t I wouldn’t know my own strength. Who I am today would not be as well-defined. I wouldn’t know the depth of my own wisdom and resilience. I wouldn’t have this drive to serve women in their own journeys through life. I’m ready to channel these lessons into a source of strength for others. From disaster, through healing, to today – I wasn’t just formed, I was forged.
Thanks for reading <3

I just meditated. It was beautiful.

lotus3 Before you imagine me spending an hour sitting in lotus position on a meditation pillow, burning incense while bamboo flute music lilts through the air, allow me to elaborate: I’m sitting in my car in a parking garage, in between my part-time office job and my full-time-plus parenting gig. I meditated for two minutes to the sound of my air conditioner and passing cars.

Is it perfect? No. Does it need to be? Not really.

I spent way too long not meditating because it seemed hard, complicated, or inaccessible to a busy mom like me. I finally took charge and realized that if I wait only for the perfect right moments, it might never happen- and I wasn’t ok with that. It is enough to just sit for a minute or two, savoring this moment, being right where I am, breathing into whatever part of my body calls to me. Today it’s my knees (I ran 4 miles yesterday) and my heart (inexplicably tender).

Give yourself permission to carve out a tiny little space for meditation. Between jobs, in the shower, after you pick up the groceries but before you drive home. Don’t assume that meditation can only happen a certain way- make it yours.