self-care

a taste of space.

My nephew who lives 2,300 miles away from me is 3 years old. He’s in this phase of having meltdowns and nightmares and although him and I don’t speak often enough, I completely understand what he’s going through. He just started school full-time, he has a baby sister on the way, and being 3 means that there are a lot of things that he can actually understand and remember – yet it may be difficult to actually articulate his feelings. It sounds stressful to be 3, and with stress at this age comes nightmares. So, to shift his mindset from scary to something more light-hearted, my brother & sis-in law have been asking him what he’d like to dream before bed.

The other day I got a text from her letting me know what he wants to dream about. My nephew said he wants me to take him to space in a rocket ship, to take the moon and bring it back home to eat. (Someone connect me with Elon Musk so I can make this happen, k thanks).

My nephew and I are tight, even telepathically. That same day, before I even received the text, I had spent 2 hours in a floatation, sensory deprivation chamber.

There were moments where I knew I fell asleep for what felt like an eternity but in reality was probably about 20 minutes; and there were moments where I knew I was awake and literally did not feel a thing.

Quick backstory. I’ve had back pain for over a year and am currently in physical therapy for it. There hasn’t been a day in over a year where I didn’t feel pain and aches throughout my body or tingling and numbness in my hands & feet.

Since time didn’t really exist while I was floating in this chamber, for the first time in what felt like forever, I legitimately did not feel a thing. I didn’t feel the water around me or any tension in my body for the majority of the session. I felt as if I were floating through space, defying gravity as each second passed by.

Floatation therapy is considered safe (still check with you primary care physician first) and I do feel that anyone could and should experience this, however I don’t recommend trying this if you haven’t spent time alone in your thoughts in the comfort of your home.

I have therapists, both physical and mental; I’ve been practicing yoga & meditation consistently for over a year and as a result, I have a great grasp on my body awareness. I feel everything and know how to articulate and pinpoint where the majority of these feelings stem from. I’ve channeled my depression & anxiety through these practices alongside Reiki, CrossFit, eating farm-raised and/or organic produce 80% of the week, and taking supplements & vitamins that enhance my focus & health.

Even with all of this “practice” I still entered the chamber with anxiety. I immediately tensed up and felt my upper back and neck tighten, the same areas where I’ve had pain for as long as I can remember.  However, what I’ve learned over the course of the year is that during moments of this intensity, I need to breathe through it. As in, focus on what I know is true to be constant for as long as I live – my breath. The moment I can channel my anxiety to the one thing that that I can control, is when I become more relaxed. The tension becomes less intense, and lying down in complete darkness and silence feels less daunting and more comforting.

I don’t think that I would’ve lasted 2 hours in this chamber had I not practiced meditating or therapy on my own. During my CrossFit days when I felt everything should be intensified x 1000, the thought of relaxing would’ve felt foreign and uncomfortable. There were moments during the session where I did panic and wanted to get out (nothing locked me in this space, by the way; the door is easily accessible and I could’ve gotten out whenever I wanted). And again, in the moments where my “fight or flight” sensors went off, I recognized this is the exact time where I not only needed to face this tension and acknowledge it, but to focus on breathing through it.

Floatation therapy is an incredibly useful method to navigate the spaces within your body and mind. I felt like I unlocked a dimension within my body, which even days later I’m still processing what I experienced and more thoughts are coming up from this session.

I find it interesting to only assume that my nephew already understands this feeling – of channeling his stress into imagining and tasting a place (that he has yet to see first hand, yet knows it exists) that’s free of the gravity of the world to alleviate the stresses of his physical existence.

my voice matters.

A few weeks ago, I started recording my thoughts through the voice memo app on my iPhone. It honestly feels archaic to share this, but I've found voice memos to be the perfect app to allow me to brain dump in the middle of driving, heading from one place to another or just when pen & paper weren't near by.

voicememo

I travel a lot for work.

By travel I mean, I sit in traffic and feel the need to pass the time to be productive since I  have zero control over my surroundings.

I listen to podcasts when I want to feel like I'm kickin' it with my fam & the juiciest news stories that CNN won't talk about, on morning edition.

92Q to remind me where I live & come from, and every other NPR show to expand my thinking.

I pay for a Spotify membership each month, but yet in these moments where I'm literally solo & retaining all the information from listening & tap-dancing on each platform, I feel the need to verbalize what I'm thinking and learning from these outlets.

Maybe this stems from my fear of getting alzheimer's, or the notion that I'm exposed & aware of so many things, more so than I can handle that I feel the need to record everything possible.

Sometimes learning feels like a double-edged-sword.

As I'm navigating ways that I process information, I'm breaching the edge of a visual learner to auditory, depending on the topic that I want to focus on in a particular moment.  This comes at a cost when I attempt to formalize my experiences on platforms like this.

I'm in tune with almost every aspect of my life & surroundings, that I could pick 10 things in the span of an hour that peaked my interest, or inspired me in some fashion and come up with a story on how I was meant to experience this particular topic.

Perhaps I make it difficult for myself to not just listen to what's on the radio, or hit up spotify, and just take whatever I see or listen to as is, but as an overly dedicated person to analyzing and questioning everything, more often than not, I feel that I need to hear the stuff that I'm actually thinking.

And this is coming from my personal experience of only knowing that pen to paper could clear my thoughts, to having the dopest therapist [#realtalk], to finding that I have so-many-things-in-my-head that if I don't get them out I'll feel like I'll implode.

Sort of.

My point is that voice memos have actually helped me in more ways than one to:

1. get over the fear of hearing my own [awkward] voice 2. brain dump 3. revisit and actually listen to what I'm saying, even if it's days or weeks later

It's a pause in time.

Ever since I began diving deeper into my own practice of self-care and what I define that as, I've learned to live with my own thoughts.

Replaying what I said a few weeks ago feels ancient, yet it taps me back into the feeling I had when I initially voiced my sentiments.

Most of what's shown on social media platforms are instant gratification "think pieces" on stories that have literally just been announced.

I often find myself thinking, 'did these people even try to sit with their thoughts before writing this?'  A lot of what we read and consume hasn't been sifted through and/or massaged.

Yes, massaged.

Often, there are instances where a particular topic is brewing, and someone immediately responds for reasons unrelated to building substance.

But what if instead of reacting immediately, you just sat there with the feeling, let it pass...and revisit it later when you're, a bit more clear headed & have facts to back up your assumption?

Patience should be prioritized, and I know firsthand, there's a fine-line between deadlines and getting a message across.

Voice memos allow me to dig deeper into the actual feeling I had when I initially hit record, and it gives me space to forget about that particular moment, to absorb everything else that I need in order to revisit and come back with a more complete, comprehensive assessment.

Memories come and go. Attachments to feelings can come and go as well. But what trips me out, and what I've found time & again, is that my voice matters & it's here to stay.

 

digging into femininity.

I’ve been sitting on this post, for the past two months, scared to publish and share with the world. But alas, here we are. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

28 years old, looking at my bank account simultaneously laughing and crying.  Living in Brooklyn, working as a personal trainer/entrepreneur, in love with a world that sometimes doesn’t feel like it loves me back.

Lost.  High. Excited. Depressed. Anxious. Nervous. Caffeinated. So many emotions, I never knew I could handle or that these all could be felt in the span of a day. Digging into my own psyche – living solo. Being alone in a city filled with thousands of people.

No one will ever really know how I’ve felt these past seven months, nor should they, but I think it’s worth mentioning.

When all I want to be is strong and confident, when that’s my job – feeling like a failure, feeling like the world can see me broken – afraid to see anyone because of this.

When I find something attractive or exciting I go full throttle with it. Men, work, books, music, everything. There’s this attachment that I tend to get too involved with, something that taps into my soul that’s so unique and different than I ever expected, and when it turns out to be not so attracting anymore, I get crushed.  Investing fully in something you’re passionate about isn’t always a great feeling, yet I know it’s (mostly) necessary to pursue whatever it is you’re passionate about.  The ups and downs, the doubts, the push and pull of each interaction that I encounter from what I enjoy doing or being surrounded with has taken such a toll on me physically.

I cry more now.  I’m crying now while writing this post.  I’m tapping into a part of me that I’ve never seen exposed.  There were periods in my life where I couldn’t remember the last time I showed any type of emotion.  Sad movies never had an effect on me, injuries never made me cry…and I do believe it’s because I was brought up in an environment that was so male dominated.

I grew up in suburban Baltimore, with a yard, and space and a bunch of guys.  Most of the people I hold so dearly to me are guys, so by nature, I tend to be “tougher.”  I played sports, my best memories of gifts that I received involved bikes and rollerblades vs. dolls and clothing.  I always knew I was strong, physically and mentally, and I think it has to do with who I surrounded myself with.

Fast forward to present day, I’m still involved in physical activities (see: CrossFit) but I’ve never really tapped into my emotions until this year.  Understanding and knowing what I want to feel in everything I do has opened my world.  I’m forcefully pushing myself to follow my gut and my heart, and it’s allowing more of my feminine side to be exposed.  Taking moments to focus on me and understand where all of these feelings are coming from has been (annoyingly) beautiful.  In the most confusing time of my tenure in NYC, I took a vinyasa style yoga class and I literally cried through movement and felt every emotion that I tried to keep inside pour out.  So many feelings were kept inside, and tuning in to myself brought everything out. This was one of the most mind-blowing, incredible experiences I’ve ever had.

I’m learning now that strong doesn’t always refer to the physical sense.  Being strong to me means being vulnerable.  Showing emotions, expressing how you feel.  When I was telling people that I was moving to New York – the majority told me “oh, you gotta be tough” “don’t say sorry when you accidentally run into people on the street” “stand your ground.”  So I tried to do all of those things, and in some cases it made sense, but that’s not me naturally.  I’ve been thinking so much that I have to be strong and I took that as being emotionless, and 6 months later, it’s finally hitting me that this isn’t true.