Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Life Coming Full Circle

It might not surprise you that I'm a full believer in serendipity. To be clear, I'm not a fatalist. Far from it. I'm actually pretty much of a control freak, and while I'm working on my woosah, I have a ways to go before generally just trusting life 100 percent. I blame it on not being able to always trust my brain. When you never know if you're going to wake up depressed, hypomanic, anxious, panicked, or feeling totally fine, it's kind of tough to trust the "out there"... whatever that "out there" is to me/you/anyone (not going to get into a spiritual/religious debate here so please don't go there). My point is, I don't believe I have no control over my life, but I do believe that sometimes, you can look at life and say, "Well, isn't it funny how that all worked out after all?"

To explain where I'm going with this, a little background. When I was 27, my now-ex-husband and I separated. I had just started my travel business less than a year before, gotten a storefront, and quit my jobby job. Our plan was to rely on his salary, some savings, and whatever small amount I made at first, until I got off the ground. Within a year, I was going through a divorce, living in my own apartment, and with a fledgling business that often required at least 50 hours in my office and plenty more at home. I was teaching group fitness and personal training for extra money. Granted, I was 50% of the decision that got me there (possibly more, in all honesty), but still... that's a lot going on. I was relatively happy, but also disjointed.

Around this time, I noticed that a new yoga studio was opening up almost literally across the street from my storefront. I had, gasp, never done yoga!  I was a group fitness instructor and personal trainer who had worked in the health and fitness industry for five years and had never taken a yoga class. Not one. Not because I didn't want to. I'm honestly not sure why. I think that, in fitness, as generally is true of me in life, I was scared of things I couldn't purely muscle through (once a gymnast, always a gymnast). And you cannot pure muscle your way through yoga (this is a lesson I'm still working on). Also, this was before I was diagnosed and medicated, but I knew something was going on with me.  Quite frankly, anything that calmed down the outside chatter had the serious potential to ramp up the inside chatter in my brain, and that was sometimes a scary place. So I had yet to set foot into a yoga class.

But, I vowed I was going to. I emailed the owners and mentioned that I worked across the street, found out when they would be opening, chatted back and forth. Still, once the studio opened, it probably took me a good six months to go over. I'm sure I made excuses, but I don't recall what they were. And then, once day, I ventured into a gentle yoga class. I was hooked. On the yoga, the studio, the fellow students (in a non-creepy way, I realize how that sounds. But I felt I'd found kindred spirits in class). I would take a long lunch hour and run across the street to the studio for lunch time yoga, staying late at my store to make up the time. A year or so later, a friend of mine in the class decided she was going to do the yoga teacher training. She asked if I wanted to as well. I didn't feel I had the money and time then. Or perhaps I just wasn't in a place that I was ready, and my brain substituted excuses. Still, I kept thinking "one day".

Eventually, life happened, I sold the storefront, and I moved (personally) across the bridge into Philly. I started a part time job, in addition to my business. I noticed that they offered yoga at my office. How nice, I thought! I should go - I've been missing being so regular in yoga. I figured it wouldn't be the same as "my" studio, but at least I'd have yoga nearby.

And lo and behold, one day I'm sitting there at the front desk, and who walks in but the owner of "my" studio in New Jersey. Surprised, we hug and she tells me that she teaches the yoga class at my office every week. Pretty incredible - I mean, the studios two places aren't even in the same state! I get back into taking yoga at work regularly and I'm hooked again.  Eventually, life happens (and this part is not my story to explain) and another instructor from the same studio begins teaching the classes at my office. I'm still hooked.

Inversions are my favorite.

Fast forward several years to this past February. I give my notice at my part-time-that-became-almost-full-time job. And within probably a week (guestimate, there was a lot going on at this time in my year), the application for the next yoga teacher training with "my" yoga studio went online. I applied the same day. I have a serious habit of talking myself out of things, mainly because I think I'll fail/be rejected/embarrass myself (OK I'm pretty used to the latter), and I find reasons not to do them. I didn't want to do that with this. It was finally time.

This past week, I was officially accepted to Yoga Teacher Training at The Grant Building (formerly Upcycle/Yogawood, formerly Yogawood - hence the website). Yesterday I got home to find an Amazon package with the assigned books for the training (I ordered them, to clarify - I don't have a secret yoga fairy godmother, though that would be awesome! It just made it more real).

I feel like life is coming full circle. I started yoga with this same studio (slightly different location) eleven years ago after my divorce. It helped me get through some pretty transitional times. Through ups and downs in life, location, career, I've stayed connected to this studio and its instructors. Last September, I got re-married.  And almost exactly a year later (a year and three weeks I believe), I'll be starting yoga teacher training at the studio where I uncertainly walked into my first ever yoga class eleven years ago, taking the next step in my yogic journey. Serendipitous.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

If You Wonder What It's Like To Have a Rapid Cycling Disorder, Watch the Whether

Not sure about where you live, but here in Philly, the whether has been fluctuating between drastically hot and sunny and Armageddon. This past week people were being rescued from roofs of their cars due to flooding on our major highways. Intense storms toppling trees, thunder pounding, lightening illuminating the sky.  And then twenty minutes later, I'd be putting on my sunglasses. Storms have been rolling through so quickly and tumultuously that streets are being flooded out in a matter of minutes when there were no clouds in sight just an hour before.

This, folks, is what its like to have a rapid cycling mood disorder. At least mine. Of course, I can't speak for everyone. Technically, rapid cycling is described as four or more mood cycles in a year. For me, it can be four or more cycles in a week, or even a day. Of course, this isn't always the case - and four cycles in a day is extreme even for me. But truly, I do go to bed every night having little inkling of how I'll feel in the morning. And even once I wake up, my mood often does not predict how I'll feel by lunch time, let alone the end of the day.

To clarify, it's not as drastic as they'd show in Hollywood, where I just completely do a 180 mid-sentence and you can't recognize me. In fact it's nothing like that at all.  I can feel the cycle coming on, when I'm awake at least. I'm especially on alert if I know there are contributing factors that tend to make me cycle - lack of sleep, for instance. Or too much external stimulus, a major change to my routine, not getting enough recoup time/self-care time. In these cases, much like watching the whether radar patterns, I can pretty well anticipate that I'm going to cycle.  But no matter how prepared you are, sometimes there's only so much you can do. You can try to time your day out perfectly, analyze all the weather forecasts, diligently study the radar, and still get caught outside when the skies decide to open up. Because sometimes, shit just doesn't go like you or anyone else thought it was going to.

So if the whether has left you frustrated these past couple of weeks, pouring down with little warning and turning sunny the minute you cancel all of your outdoor activities, know that I can empathize. This is my brain on any given day. And no matter how much you try to prepare, to do everything correctly, to take all the precautions, to carefully listen to all the storm warnings and predictions, sometimes you miss the mark, or the storm changes course swiftly and there's nothing you could do to change it.  And when that happens, you get to a safe space as quickly as you can and, as one apparently only does in big storms or serious flareups, hunker down until it lightens up.