I’m Bringing Happy Back

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Things have not gone as expected. Food is fine, but life is…not, which, I guess, is a part of life. However, I’ve been so used to the hurdles I come across being the ones I’ve created, that actually being exposed to obstacles I can’t resolve and did not cause has been extraordinarily trying. Because of being, in many ways, caught blind-sided by the difficulties in my environment, my motivation has been tested, as has my hope.

As much as I don’t want to be sad, though, it is far more welcome when it’s about what’s going on around me rather than what’s going on inside of me. Though I can’t change my circumstances, I can combat depression in familiar ways and it does not have to rock my safety.

The first few days, I cried. And, as unpleasant as it was to feel and expose my overwhelming upset, letting out what I was experiencing gave me space to move through it. Letting the waves crash made way for a settling.

Still, the tears weren’t pleasant and, after having had time to feel sad, hurt, and confused, as well as the myriad of difficult emotions I was noticing, I realized I didn’t want to feel those ways anymore. Though I can’t help continuing to feel upset when small things remind me of the many ways I am having to go through a variety of experiences right now I do not enjoy in my transition out of residential, it is not the only thing I have to feel. It is so crucial that at times when I do not enjoy what’s happening, I do things I do enjoy.

Hopelessness is the fuel for my downfall and it is with every ounce of my soul that I do not want to ever feel the ways I once did. That means that I, in making a commitment to move forward, have to also make daily commitments to protect myself from the things that pull me back.

So, after the tears passed, I made a decision that the things out of my control I may not like, but there are so many things I can still do that I do like, and that I will do my best to incorporate those. It takes effort. It takes saying no, when my mind says stay in bed. It means thinking about what I enjoy in moments where joy is vacant. It means detaching from the darkness with the memory of the light. It means caring more about what could be than what is.

These past couple of days, sans (most) tears, I have begun to compile a list of and plan for the things I can do within these next few weeks to make myself feel connected to why I want to survive and thrive. Part of that is just writing this blog- just writing in general. Each night, I’ve kept a list of things I’m proud of about myself in that day. I went back to the good old Bucket List. I’ve explored new areas of Boston and found a yoga studio I immediately loved. I went kayaking and made sure every morning I got out of bed and out of my apartment and into the world. I went back to BC to remind myself of what I’ll soon be immersed in and what I’m recovering to. I made plans with friends and scheduled a trip to go home. I am keeping an eye on the good.

And that’s all I can do. But, it’s changed things significantly. Even when it feels like everything’s out of my hands- even when most things are- my happiness is mine.

Cheers!

Alexandra

At the Drop of a Mat

On my venture to realign with my values, motivation, and hope, I’ve been searching for and holding tightly to the pieces of my life- the memories, the activities, the people- who remind me of the connected self that lies beneath the surface, emerging slowly and sporadically throughout this journey. In this, I’ve consistently come back to yoga. It hasn’t quite been the movement, itself, but rather the stillness I’ve been able to find at times in my practice. It’s the break from the noise that I know I can find on my mat that I’m working towards, and when that’s taken away by the actions in which I choose to engage in disconnection, it’s a reminder of the losses that do not serve me.

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With this recognition, I was asked to distinguish what it is about yoga, what it means to me, and what it feels like. I narrowed it down to this…

So much of my life I’ve wanted to be someone else. I’ve fantasized about having different circumstances, a different mind, a different body, a different temperament, or a different life. I’ve wanted to and often still want to crawl out of my skin and go on a search for one that will allow me to feel different- more right.

With time, in yoga, I’ve, for the first time, felt at home in my body. I’ve felt an alignment between my soul and the vehicle I have for this lifetime. The struggle has dimmed and sometimes diminished with the movement and breath in my practice. I’ve found congruence, purpose, and acceptance.

The focus and teachings have guided me into a meditative state; my thoughts have slowed and quieted and I’ve been able to discover a respect for my being- an awareness of the benefits and progress of this respect, and an understanding for the journey of my relationships between my selves on this planet.

The pride and striving one holds and keeps engrained in the movement of yoga has allowed me a space to achieve unachievement and meet myself in my truth and current state. My focus on where I am gives me a chance to notice any conflicting invasions from my ego on where I should be. I have a peace which lets me detach from those thoughts and free myself from any resulting restraints. I am already all I need to be and my strength and ability for survival can be guided and nurtured within, where they exist. I see myself aside from my world. I see my world as a place to hold me, but not define me. I get to be who I am for however long I have the opportunity to be and to do my best and enjoy. I am at peace.

It is the closest thing I have found to an entirely unattached freedom and purpose, and it has come as a result of simple words, a mat, and an accepting community. The practice of intentional self-exploration, respect and unfolding in yoga can only be learned and uncovered in a spiritual surrender. Just as others have offered me this invitation for a safe place to be set free, even momentarily, from the struggles that find me in pain, I aspire to learn and expand my experience to those open and seeking their own space to meet themselves in the state of their nature. It feels like hope.

Cheers!

Alexandra

Nom Nom Nomaste

Yesterday, I arrived back in Boston from my Spring Break vacation which I was lucky enough to have spent back in California. Though trading an 89 degree beach day for the snow was not easy, the time I had there filled me with a new set of fantastic memories, connecting relationships, and beautiful reminders of why I stay in the fight and choose life.

Feelings are often beyond words, and all of those I experienced keep flooding me in waves of nostalgia. It’s the feelings of familiar faces, stabilizing embraces, and tasting new flavors of gelato, the moments spent under the sun and the peace that comes with feeling safe and in place in the universe that reminded me that living is greater than existing. How can I choose to shut myself off from the possibilities I can’t even see?

So, while they’re still fresh in my memory, here are some of the snippets of my life this past week…

There was a reunion with one of my best friends from high school.

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And so many with my pals from my time in LA.

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I got to learn some new yoga tricks

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And spend time under the sun soaking up all that Vitamin D.

11015115_10205518744068593_5774142052954585958_n There was lots of gelato

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And then more gelato.

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I got to see so many fun things with so many fun people.

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There was a puppy

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And shopping.

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The weather was phenomenal (minus a couple of days of rain, but we’ll overlook that)

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And so were the views.

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But, above all else, I felt connected. To myself and those around me.

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Sometimes the busy-ness of our surroundings can cause a blindness to occur, where the road we are on is forgotten with the fixation on where we are going. I was reminded of the beauty that can come with awareness- that looking around not only enhances the journey, but also allows us to make the necessary shifts that bring us to the proper destination.

I hope to maintain the peace and happiness, and set sails for the countless opportunities I have yet to come across in my day-to-day life.

Cheers!

Alexandra

Better Now Than Never

There was a time where I believed I was too far gone to ever remember what it felt like to be alive. When that passed, it shifted to a fear that once I remembered, once I became, I would be so alone, haunted by my past and surrounded by many who would stay back. Lying in savasana this past Saturday, I (shamefully) peeked around the aerial yoga room on the seventeenth floor of the midtown Manhattan building in which I lay and came to realize I’d missed the cue for everyone to return to their hammocks for the final pose. My back pressed against the hard ground, I snuck a glance at the bodies levitating above me. On both of my sides were the peaceful, safe bodies of two of my closest friends from treatment flying above me. I realized, these times have passed.

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There is a sort of phenomenon that occurs in treatment where, in unison against the illnesses of the mind, bonds are formed so strong that it’s difficult to imagine or continue them outside of the walls in which they were formed. It’s felt, at times, that to get better meant returning to relationships that would forever seem sub-par in comparison. Even in recovery for a while, this felt true. So many of the people I once sat arm-in-arm with, fantasizing about the lives we would have once we’d put it all behind, were still so far behind.

This Saturday, however, I uncovered a reality I hope persists far beyond just my experience: we can all be well and it will be far greater than when we were sick. The relationships I’ve made in treatment have been extraordinary, but there is something that, though unusually close, can also be distant in connecting with another with an uncertain fate. This weekend, spending a blissful afternoon practicing yoga in bodies we can use, I spent time truly connecting with some of the best people I’ve had the opportunity to know. The extraordinary parts stayed, but I felt this great relief and excitement in the tangible possibilities of our futures. Similarly, I also got the chance to meet and appreciate people/geniuses outside of the treatment realm through these connections, as we “Escaped the Room” (look it up and see below…it’s awesome and there are several locations!) the night prior. This, alongside all of the incredible friends I’ve made here at Boston College and the moments we’ve shared together made me think…the time to get well is now.

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There may have been a time in my life where being well would not have been nearly as fruitful, or maybe the perspective I have now would have simply been lacking to allow it to feel as such. Whatever the reason for the past, it is just that: history. Someone once told me something along the lines of, “not one person ever needs to die of an eating disorder,” and, though so simply true, it is a concept I never really thought much about. In the depths of it, the disorder, itself, seems so much more complex, so much more necessary for survival and difficult to escape, but, simultaneously, it can be that simple: an unnecessary, maladaptive coping mechanism that can and must be stopped. The time is now to be well. There are so many hammocks left in which to fly!

Cheers!

Alexandra

P.S. A little shameless self-promotion…it would be greatly appreciated if you could take a moment to click the link below and vote for My Shiny Reflections for Best Health Blog 2014. You can vote daily until January!
http://www.healthline.com/health/best-health-blogs-contest