self-care

moments and milestones

by eringoodman on February 9, 2017

in grief and loss, recovery, self-care

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Today was a challenging day, in a challenging week, in a challenging month, in what has been a very challenging stretch of years in my personal life.

And, without going into details, I want to pause to witness and honor myself for showing up every single day as the very best version of myself that I can be, for keeping my chin up and my heart open, for doing the work, for loving fiercely and tenderly, for cussing and crying (and working out hard) when I need to, for taking my meds each morning religiously, and for actively, consciously, mindfully, whole-heartedly choosing to stay on the path of Recovery.

Three years, 5 months and counting…

Amen. Blessed Be. And so it is.

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* * * *

There are many things I say as a teacher, words I mean with my full heart and soul, that are still extremely challenging for me to practice as a student.

Giving myself permission to modify a prescribed experience to meet my needs (without guilt or strife or anxiety) is one of those challenges.

When I am teaching yoga, I say:

Listen to your body. Meet yourself where you are. Let your heart and your breath guide you.

When I am a student on the mat in a new class, I wonder:

Am I  just not trying hard enough? If I did yoga six times a week, would I be able to bend like her? What will the people around me think if I curl up in a ball and rest on my mat?

* * *

Since the middle of January I have been participating in an amazing program at All That Matters in Wakefield, RI called 40 Days to Personal Revolution, inspired by Baron Baptiste’s book of the same name.

About a week before the program started I also began working at All That Matters as their new Yoga Adviser, which is sort of like a guidance counselor for yoga students. (Holy dream job, Batman!)

So as I am going through this program, I find myself viewing it from a few different angles:

~ As a longtime yogi who is returning to a deeper physical practice after several years of childrearing and yoga “off the mat”;
~ As a yoga teacher who is aspiring to resume teaching regular weekly classes in the coming year;
~ As a Yoga Adviser (!!!) supporting new yogis on their journey;
~ And as a (almost) 39-year-old-woman, wife and working mother who is living (and mostly thriving) with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), anxiety and depression.

When we came to the fourth week in the program and the three day fruit fast, it was from this unique, multi-angled perspective, that I made a commitment to myself to honestly experience the fast, while honoring who I am, where I am in my life and what my primary responsibilities are.

So when half way through the first day of the fruit fast, I found myself feeling anxious, short-tempered and snapping at my loved ones, I decided to immediately make a change.

I brought cooked vegetables, seeds and nuts into my fast (in the purest form the fruit fast is three days of raw fruit and water only) and immediately felt better.

And although there was a tiny voice inside me saying, sometimes we need to disturb our comfort in order to grow…and…maybe you just need to lean into the discomfort instead of running away from it…and…how convenient and ‘American’ of you to modify a fruit fast to include whatever ‘feels good’ for you, there was a larger, more grounded voice saying:

“Honor who you are and what serves your highest good, Erin.”

Someday I may choose to retreat to a beautiful, quiet location to experience the full physical, mental and spiritual benefits of a fast, but right now my primary responsibilities are serving my family and the clients I am blessed to work with, and to do that I need to be at my best.

So I chose to modify my fruit fast in a way that worked for me.

And I feel really good about my choices. I stayed “on the mat” by being in a place of awareness and intentional eating for the entire three days.

I listened to my body. I met myself where I am. And I let my heart and my breath guide me.

This, my friends, is my yoga.

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“I really think I need some help”

by eringoodman on September 26, 2012

in self-care, the contrast

Thank you so much for your loving and supportive words following this post. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks reflecting on what my next ‘brave baby step’ might be and what parts of this very personal story I am ready to share publicly. And I honestly was not sure — until yesterday, when I sat down to write ad copy for the Recharge and instead the following words began to flow.

(Just a quick head’s up as it is not a regular part of this space, there are swears in this post. I’ve chosen not to edit them out. They, and the emotions behind them, are part of my story.)

I took this photo yesterday morning, with much gratitude for the beauty that surrounds me, my ability to see and appreciate it, and the deep peace I feel.

* * * * *

Tuesday, May 22, 2012:

With tears streaming down my face and my heart racing, I sat in my car and dialed my doctor’s cell phone number. My voice quivered and cracked as I did my best to leave a reasonably coherent voicemail message.

“Hi, John. This is Erin Goodman. I need to come in and see you. (Long pause punctuated with sniffling.) I . . . umm . . . I really think I need some help.

I continued, letting him know that I was not in a crisis or in need of emergency treatment but — having been there before — I could see where the path I was on was leading, and I knew I needed help.

A few days later I sat in his office, with tears again streaming down my face.

“Tell me what’s going on,” he said softly, passing me a box of Kleenex.

I wiped my tears, loudly honked my nose (laughing nervously at the absurdity of the scene and what a mess I was), took a deep breath, and told him what I was experiencing.

* * *

As my doctor, he knows my history.

We’ve talked at great length about my often fickle creative mind and how challenging it is for me to focus and follow through (or on the flip side to unfocus and disengage when I become absorbed in a project).

He knows about my panic attacks and that I can’t get anywhere near an airplane (or crowded subway) without significant pharmaceutical support.

He knows that I am predisposed to depression and that I experienced severe clinical depression when I was in my mid-twenties.

He knows that for the past decade I have (mostly) been able to manage my moods with healthy (a.k.a. real) foods, regular exercise, yoga, Reiki, spiritual healers, soul friends, beach walks and my own special blend of herbal teas, homeopathic remedies and flower essences.

And when he heard me describe what I was currently going through — the insomnia, the fog of malaise, the sensation of a lead blanket weighing me down, the overwhelming desire to run away from my life, the frequent and intense panic attacks — he also knew exactly which medications could help me.

* * *

I sighed and I thanked him, fumbling with the multiple prescription scripts I was now holding in my hands, feeling a mix of shame, fear, failure, relief and hope.

My mind was spinning. What the FUCK??? How did I get here??? I *teach* people how to breathe and relax and cope with stress in natural ways. Just exhale. return to center., right? Shouldn’t I be able to meditate and positively affirm my way though this shit?

As if he could read my mind, he said . . .

“This is not a failure, Erin. This is why these medications exist. This is why good people, with good hearts and families just like yours and mine, dedicate their lives to creating just the right chemical combinations so that YOU can function in your day-to-day, and take care of your children and do the good work you are here to do.

This doesn’t have to be forever, but this is what you need right now.”

I sniffled and sighed a heartfelt, “Thank you.”

And then we hugged for a moment.

“You are going to be okay, Erin,” he whispered. “We’re going to get you through this.”

 

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“Are you doing your yoga, Erin?” my friend asks gently.

She has been lovingly listening to me for the past 20 minutes as I attempt to articulate the muddled mix of overwhelm, exhaustion and confusion I have been feeling stuck in for the past several days.

I pause before answering, mentally scanning through the last few weeks.

I’m teaching yoga. I’m providing lots of yogic support to my wedding couples. I’m writing and reflecting on yoga.

But when is the last time I rolled out my mat, switched off my cell phone and did my yoga?

* * * * *

“Wow. I guess it’s been a while,” I finally say.

Because the truth is that sometimes I forget.

Even though I teach it. Even though I can go back and read so many beautiful words that I have written about the practice and what it does for me.

I get busy. I forget. I make other things a higher priority.

In short, I don’t always practice what I teach. 

But luckily — no matter how far we stray from our path — we can always begin again. 

And that’s just what I did this week. 

What a happy homecoming it was.

* * * * *

And you, my friend?

Are you doing your yoga? (Or eating your greens? Or getting enough rest? Or whatever it is that you do that helps you to be most fully you?) If not, what’s one thing you could do this weekend to begin again?

Love + Light . . .

~Erin

 

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sunday still life :: quiet

by eringoodman on April 1, 2012

in energy management, self-care, still life

Sunday Still Life is an evolving mindfulness project; an weekly invitation to pause the busy of our days, to re-center and celebrate the beauty and depth of life. If you are inspired to join in, please leave a link or share your thoughts in the comments below.

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It’s Sunday. The first of April. The first full week of spring.

So much is swirling around and within.

My ego wants to write something poignant.

Something witty. Something likable. Something shareable.

My heart knows that what I need right now is quiet.

I think about skipping this week’s “still life” —

but wonder if perhaps quiet is just what you are needing too.

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